Ever thought vaginal discharge was yucky? Well, after reading this article you might not think so again. The glands in the neck of the womb a.k.a the cervix are responsible for the production of natural lubricants which keep the vagina supple and moist. The moisture moves slowly down through the vagina, keeping it clean and exfoliating dead cells. The vaginal moisture is slightly acidic and this helps to keep the area healthy and prevent infection-causing bacteria. It is perfectly normal for the majority of women to notice a slight white vaginal discharge. Vaginal discharge is a sign of a healthy and bacteria-free vagina, except in rare cases of smelly or colored discharge. Then you might have to worry just a tiny weeny bit. But what happens when your vagina suddenly stops producing discharge? This is known as vaginal dryness.
Vaginal dryness occurs when the tissues of the vagina are not well lubricated and healthy. This can occur at any age but is especially common in older women. Vaginal dryness is usually followed by pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse. This may negatively affect a relationship. Vaginal dryness can also lead to bacterial or yeast infections. Normally, the walls of the vagina stay lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid. The hormone estrogen helps maintain that fluid and keeps the lining of the vagina healthy, thick, and elastic.
A drop in estrogen levels reduces the amount of moisture available. It can happen at any age from a number of different causes. Although it may seem like a minor irritation, lack of vaginal moisture can have a huge and sometimes devastating impact on your sex life. The good news is, several treatments are available to relieve vaginal dryness.
Symptoms of Vaginal Discharge
When vaginal dryness occurs, there are certain symptoms that accompany it. These include
soreness, itching or burning of the vagina, painful intercourse, light bleeding after intercourse, and mild vaginal discharge.
Women suffering from vaginal dryness may also experience pain at other times. In some cases, vaginal dryness does not only cause pain during sex, it can make it uncomfortable to sit, stand, exercise, urinate or even walk. Vaginal dryness can affect everyday life, whether women are sexually active or not.
Many women also notice that having a cervical smear becomes more painful or difficult.
There is also a drastic change in the appearance of the vagina and vulva. Some women may notice that their vagina looks different, that is, the lips will be much thinner.
Vaginal dryness may also cause some changes to the vaginal discharge, many women also find that their vaginal discharge changes, either becoming more watery, discolored and slightly smelly and they may experience irritation or a burning sensation occasionally.
These symptoms can be frustrating and scary but they are simply due to the hormonal changes and not a sign of some serious or terminal conditions.
Causes of Vaginal Dryness?
Oh dear! There are just so many factors that contribute to vaginal dryness. These include:
One of the most common causes of vaginal dryness is a decrease in estrogen levels during menopause or perimenopause, after childbirth, or during breastfeeding, Chemotherapy, surgical removal of the ovaries, smoking, and radiation to the pelvis can also lead to low estrogen and a decrease in vaginal lubrication. The vagina’s state of healthiness depends largely on estrogen.
Allergy and cold medications containing antihistamines can cause vaginal dryness. It has also been observed that asthma medications can have a drying effect on the body and cause reduced vaginal lubrication.Certain antidepressants may also lead to a reduction in vaginal secretions.
Vaginal dryness may also be caused by a low libido or sexual problems with a partner. If a partner is unable to sustain the sexual excitement, it may most likely lead to vaginal dryness. Consequently, the dryness may worsen libido.
The chemicals in soaps, hygiene products, dyes, and perfumes may cause problems. Some women are allergic to certain substances in these products. There can even be allergic reactions to underwears, sanitary pads, and lubricants. All of these can contribute to vaginal dryness.
Psychological and emotional factors like stress and anxiety can also hinder sexual desire and contribute to vaginal dryness when normal vaginal lubrication does not occur. This is because when a woman is anxious or stressed, there is insufficient blood flow through the body and this can result in dryness of the vagina.
Thia is a long-term autoimmune disease in which the glands responsible for producing moisture in the body are affected. This results in the development of a dry mouth and dry eyes. Other symptoms can include dry skin, vaginal dryness, a chronic cough, numbness in the arms and legs, tiredness, muscle and joint pains, and thyroid problems. Basically, this disease can cause dryness in the eyes, mouth, and vagina. And it gets worse, people affected by this syndrome are at an increased risk of lymphoma.
Vaginal Dryness: Prevention and Treatment
Treatment for vaginal dryness depends on the cause. Women who experience problems with vaginal lubrication because of hormonal changes can often benefit from estrogen therapy.
Doctors at times recommend localized treatments like vaginal estrogen inserts. For other women, especially those who have symptoms such as hot flashes in addition to vaginal dryness, an oral medication or a skin patch that releases estrogen throughout the body is an option. In some cases, both oral medication and skin patches can be used together to effectively treat vaginal dryness.
Apart from estrogen therapies, these are some other ways of dealing with vaginal dryness:
Use Lubricants, Please!
There are various kinds of lubricants that can help tackle vaginal dryness. These include silicone-based, oil-based, and water-based products. They can help moisten the vagina for several hours or up to a day. Water-based lubricants are especially good for relieving pain during sexual intercourse. However, lubricants are often used to make sex less uncomfortable rather than as an anti vaginal dryness therapy.
Moisturizers Are Great!
Your everyday vaginal moisturizers can be an effective way to minimize vaginal dryness over several days with just one application.
Use Estrogen Alternatives
Estrogen can alleviate symptoms of vaginal dryness. It’s available as a tablet, cream, suppository, or ring that’s placed directly into the vagina.
Soybeans Helps Relieve Vaginal Dryness
Yes, soybeans! Hard to believe, right? Soybeans contains substances called isoflavones, which may work like estrogen in the body, thus dispelling chances of vaginal dryness. However, this claim is still under medical debate.
How Do I Know it`s Vaginal Dryness?
If you suspect having vaginal dryness, your doctor can perform a pelvic exam to determine whether the walls of your vagina are thin, pale, or red. Your doctor may also test your hormone levels to check if you’re experiencing premenopause or menopause. Your vaginal discharge may also be tested for vaginal dryness.
You Don`t Need to Break a Sweat!
Vaginal dryness is a common and annoying condition, but there are ways to alleviate the discomfort. If a lack of lubrication is causing painful sex, make sure to see your doctor about all possible treatments.
What about Low Estrogen?
Vaginal dryness is most often caused by a decrease in estrogen levels. Estrogen is a hormone that helps keep the tissues of your vagina lubricated and healthy. The first step in treating vaginal dryness is figuring out the source of the discomfort, especially if a dry vagina is causing painful sex. A number of conditions can lead to a lack of vaginal lubrication. As soon as you figure out why your vagina is dry, you are well on your way to restoring it to its good old days.