A woman’s body goes through a metamorphosis during a particular phase of her life called menopause. Stemming from the Greek calque “Pausis,” its literal meaning is “end of monthly cycles.” The emotional and physical changes from menopause wreak havoc on daily life for years while a woman experiences various related issues, including vaginal dryness, commonly called by the medical term atrophic vaginitis.
Even the slightest shifts in a woman’s delicate hormonal balance can spur significant changes in her body. During menopause, these shifts, aside from pregnancy, are at their most extreme. Some of the most common symptoms associated with hormones going awry are depression, hot flashes, bladder leakage, mood swings, weight gain, breast tenderness, and vaginal dryness. All of these make sexual intercourse difficult at best; at worst, it’s painful and embarrassing.
The Effects of Vaginal Dryness
Lack of vaginal moisture may seem like a minor annoyance in comparison to other symptoms of menopause. Still, in reality, it’s a significant physical disruption, and for most women, a painful one. Vaginal dryness causes the tissue to be thin and become inflamed.
Here are a few other effects to expect when experiencing post-menopausal vaginal dryness:
- Vaginal burning
- Painful intercourse
- Light bleeding from intercourse
- Urinary tract infections or UTI
- Vaginal itching
- Loss of interest in sexual intercourse
Treatments Are Available
Menopause results in a decline in the body’s estrogen levels and rarely serious. However, its common for women to seek out treatment for this condition due to the discomfort and annoyance. There are both self and physician supplied treatments available. Caution should be taken when treating vaginal dryness as some remedies mentioned below can change ph balance and irritate delicate skin. A few treatment available to women experiencing post-menupausal vaginal dryness are:
- Water-based lubricants
- Vaginal moisterizers (different than lubricants)
- Vaginal estrogen cream
- Estrogen ring or tablet
- Oral selective estrogen receptor modulator medication (SERM)
- DHEA vaginal suppository
- Vaginal stimulation
Other Common Causes of Vaginal Dryness
Aside from menopause, there are other causes for women to experience this condition at any age. Some reasons are wholly avoidable, and others will cause more temporary dryness.
Some common causes for vaginal dryness other than menopause:
- Giving birth
- Immune disorders
- Chemo or radiation therapies
- Certain medications
- Prolonged periods in a hot tub or swimming pool
If various options for self-care at home are a complete failure and symptoms persist, don’t let it go, notify a physician, she or he knows alternate treatment, which could require a prescription. A primary doctor may have a solution, or they may point you in the direction of a gynecologist. If an immune disorder causes this condition, an appointment with an endocrinologist may be the answer.