Having a dry vagina is nothing anyone would want to experience due to physical discomfort during copulation as well as physiological stigma. What causes this feminine dryness? Could it be menopausal dryness or a different problem? What about when it happens to younger women and teenagers? Are there good lubricants for women with this problem, reliable home remedies for this problem, treatments or medications? Learn more.
Understanding vaginal or feminine dryness
The natural female lubrication mechanism that keeps the vaginal moist and supple is necessary and should be in place for any healthy young woman especially before her menopause begins. This lubrication is due to the lubricants produced by glands located at the cervix. Furthermore, during sex, the Bartholin’s glands produce extra moisture to help sexual intercourse to happen smoothly.
Therefore, under normal circumstances, the “walls of the vagina stay lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid” [webmd.com], which is maintained by estrogen. Furthermore, estrogen ensures one has a thick, elastic, acidic healthy vagina lining. During menopause, estrogen levels decrease making one’s vaginal walls thinner, with less moisture and elasticity.
Feminine or vaginal dryness (also atrophic vaginitis or vaginal atrophy) is uncomfortable and at times a painful problem that may affect women of any age. It is the second-highest complaint women have after low libido, with about 40% of the women reporting the problem in the USA. However, it is notably a big problem to women currently going through their menopause or has gone through it (post-menopausal dryness).
In terms of when it occurs, whereas some women have female lubrication problems throughout unless the problem has been treated, some experience feminine dryness episodes during certain times of their lives such as a vaginal dryness before periods, during early pregnancy, after hysterectomy, etc.
Note that in some texts, some authors have used words such as ‘dry vigina’, ‘virginal dryness’ virgina dryness’ where the word vagina has been misspelled as ‘vigina’, ‘vargina’ ‘virgina’, ‘vegina’, etc., or ‘veginal’, ‘viginal’, ‘virginal’, etc. This is nothing special other than the use of wrong spellings to mean the same thing. No big deal.
Vulva dryness and vaginal dryness
Vaginal and dryness are closely related since a dry vagina can lead the same problem on your vulva. According to Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, “sometimes women find their vulva and vagina feeling dry and its lubrication is poor … this can make sex painful and it can make insertion of a tampon painful as well”.
Therefore, vulva dryness could be due to vaginal dryness or be caused by something else that will affect the vulva area i.e. make the skin on the outside your vagina dry.
We will not dwell much on vulva dryness in this discussion but focus on vaginal one where we will cover a number of possible causes, some symptoms, and treatment for this problem which include during menopause.
Symptoms and signs
For people who have the problem, they may experience the below symptoms during sex or all the time. Some of the symptoms to expect include:
- Vaginal irritation, discomfort, itchiness or a burning sensation (NHS.uk) i.e. feminine itch and dryness
- Discomfort during copulation i.e. “itchiness, burning, mild bleeding and pain during sex due to chafing or tearing of the vaginal lining” [bustle.com]
- Decreased desire to have sex
- Pale and thin vaginal surface
- Vagina narrowing and/or shortening
- Increase urge to pee than usual
- Recurring bouts of UTIs (Urinary tract infections)
- Orgasm and arousal difficulties
These are just but some of the common symptoms you are likely to notice. There could be a few other unique symptoms which might be tied to the cause of feminine dryness in your case. See your doctor or gynecologist for diagnosis and further evaluation.
What causes vaginal dryness
Inasmuch as this problem is often ignored and people are shy to talk about it, it is a serious problem that is killing many people silently. Just go to any online forum about female dryness and lubrication problems and you will get to know how serious the problem is. You will find people asking all manner of questions such as ‘why am I dry down there all of a sudden?’ ‘What causes dryness in the vagina during sex?’ among many other questions.
Let us now look at some of the possible causes of this condition in women which could be affecting a certain age set e.g. those nearing menopause or any other girl.
Dryness due to menopause
To begin with, on what causes this condition, we have menopause. This affects older women. However, some younger women may suffer from premature menopause which can come as early as mid-30’s.
During menopause time, the production of estrogen goes down leading to dryness. We will cover more on menopause related later in this post.
Childbirth and breastfeeding time
During this times, estrogen hormone may also go down making your vaginal to feel drier than it is usually. This is because childbirth lowers estrogen level in the body.
Sex before arousal
One of the possible cause female dryness, if you do not get aroused before having sex, your vaginal will not produce enough lubrication. This will make it try and make sex very uncomfortable. It is good to ensure you have good female arousal having sex.
Some kinds of contraceptives you may be using
According to NHS, “the combined contraceptive pill and contraceptive injection can occasionally cause vaginal dryness, although this is uncommon.” Try changing your contraceptive pills if you notice abnormal dryness that set in when you began using your current pills.
Some treatments for cancer
Another possible cause of feminine dryness is undergoing radiotherapy cancer treatment in your pelvic area as well as the use of hormonal cancer treatment therapy.
Also, chemotherapy can lead to this condition i.e. chemotherapy can cause lots of hormonal changes as well as damage ovaries affecting estrogen production.
Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder where cells that produce body moisture are targeted. This means your body will generally have less moisture including your vagina.
Certain medications and drugs
Some medications such as antidepressants, asthma medications, and cold and allergy medications are known to make the vagina dry. For instance, cold medications dry out mucus on nose membrane and vagina. According to everydayhealth.com. “Allergy and cold medications containing antihistamines as well as asthma medications can have a drying effect on the body and cause reduced vaginal lubrication”
Being stressed out or anxious can make it dry
Stress is often blamed for a number of health issues including this dryness in women. According to Women’s Health Mag, stress can “temporarily kill your libido outright, feeling anxious or pressured can make it harder to get turned.” Furthermore, stress will also affect normal hormonal balance.
Some products and irritants
Use of harsh soaps, tampons, douching devices, some panties, sanitary towels, swimming pool water, hot tub chemicals and feminine sprays can “disrupting the natural balance of chemicals in your vagina” [Healthline.com].
To deal with chemical irritants, The North American Menopause Society recommends the use of “clean water is perfectly adequate for washing there. Also, use only white unscented toilet paper, wash your underwear in detergents without dyes and perfumes, and stop using fabric softeners and anti-cling laundry products”. Also, ensure you do not use any perfumed products or lotions on our inner vulva.
Besides the above causes, the other possible causes include the following:
- Anti-estrogen medications used to treat uterine fibroids or endometriosis [WebMD]
- Excessive exercising
- Ovary removal and hysterectomy
- Cigarette smoking (lowers estrogen).
- UTIs and often thrush infections
Medications, cures, remedies, and treatment
Which are some of the ways, medications, cures, and remedies that can help in dealing with female or the so-called vaginal dryness? Let us now explore some of the general feminine dryness relief solutions and treatments.
Try some of the best lubricants for vaginal dryness
These are gels and liquids which you can use as a vagina and vulvar dryness treatment option. They are either applied to your vulva and vagina or your partner applies them on his penis before having sex. They will provide excellent lubrication.
This is a good temporary female dryness cure that will ensure you enjoy sex. You must have heard about Replens, KY jelly, and Lubrins. There are not just those but many others. In general, there are water-based, oil-based and silicone-based lubricants.
On the issue of the best lubricant for women to buy, there are so many vaginal lubricants. Just read reviews on various brands to help you know which brand is good. Furthermore, the best lubricant should not always be the most expensive. You can get affordable good ones too in your drugstores.
Just to mention a few of the excellent lubricants that can be of help to women’s lubrication problems, we have:
Best silicone based vag lubes
The first option of best lubricant for dryness is those based on silicone. One good thing about them is that they are “hypoallergenic and cannot be absorbed into the skin.” However, they are not easy to wash off from fabric and they cannot be used with toys made from silicone. Some of the best silicone-based sex lubricants include:
- Replens Silky Smooth Personal Lubricant
- Swiss Navy Silicone Lubricant
- KY True Feel Silicone Lubricant
- LifeStyles Luxe Silicone Lubricant
- Wet Platinum Premium Silicone Lubricant
- Passion Lubes Premium Silicone Lubricant
- Pink Silicone Lubricant For Women,
- Pjur Eros Bodyglide
Best water-based vaginal lubricants
These lubricants give a thicker cushioning with a generous barrier. They are less expensive and can be used with any sex toys. However, they might need reapplication since they eventually dry out. Some of the best water-based lubricants brands include:
- Isabel Fay Natural Water Based Lubricant
- JO H2O Flavored Vanilla Cream
- ID Glide Water Based Personal Lubricant
- KY Liquid Personal Water Based Lubricant
- Slippery Stuff Personal Lubricant Gel,
- Passion Natural Water Based Lubricant
The final option of lubes for your dry vagina is the oil based. These brands are good for hand jobs, foreplay and massage. However, for penetrative sex, oil-based lubricants are not recommended since they are not easy to come out of you or get off you. Some of the best oil-based lubricants for a dry vulva include:
- Ride Rub Stroke Oil
- Gun Oil Stroke 29,
- Pinks Coco Lube
To know what will work well for you, it is good to experiment with different feminine lubricants to be able to tell what works best for you.
Try vaginal moisturizers or cream for vag lubrication
The second option of lubrication is going for vaginal moisturizers. These are mainly creams which you apply inside your vagina. They are particularly beneficial in instances where your dryness isn’t just during sex because they last longer i.e. you will apply them after every few days.
Water-based moisturizers are usually the best since oil based can cause irritation and cause damages to latex-based condoms. Some of the best dry vaginal moisturizers include
- Replens Moisturizer alleviates Dryness for Menopausal Women
- Vagisil Prohydrate, Internal – Moisturizing Gel
- RepHresh Vaginal Gel
- Silken Secret by Astroglide
- K-Y Long Lasting
- Moist Again
- Joi Naked Intimate Moisture Gel
As for the case lubricants, you need to experiment to know which of these moisturizers will be most effective for you.
Vaginal estrogen and hormone cream for dryness
If your dryness is associated with a decline in estrogen, doctors will often recommend estrogen which will increase estrogen levels especially during and after menopause.
Vaginal estrogen is available in form of vaginal creams (Estrace and Premarin), vaginal tablets (Vagifem), and vaginal rings (Estring and Femrings). All are placed inside your vagina with some kind of applicator.
They are ideal menopause dryness treatment option as well as for post menopause cases. They have very few side effects compared to lubricants but take long before they start working i.e. after few weeks.
If you opt for estrogen, you will continue with the treatment indefinitely since the moment you stop using them, your problems will begin coming back. Some women suffer side effects such as breast pain and vaginal bleeding.
Hormonal Replacement Therapy HRT
This is a therapy that replenishes hormones that begin declining during menopause. They are only available after prescription and they come in forms such as tablets (swallowed medication for dry vagina), “a skin patch, an implant under the skin, or a gel that’s applied to the skin” [www.nhs.uk].
Despite the fact that HRT’s have a wider effect on your body hormones when compared to vaginal estrogen, beware of the fact that their side effects are more.
Natural remedies for dry vagina
For those pro women’s natural lubricants and lubrication, there are a few home remedies for dry vagina which you can try. However, you need to know they have a very little scientific backing and proven results. We are not advocates of these home remedies. Nevertheless, you deserve to know them. What are some of the common feminine dryness remedies you can try?
Including soy in your diet
Soybeans and products that have soy have effects that closely mimic the function of estrogen. Therefore, adding “soy to your diet, you may experience some relief from vaginal dryness” [Healthline.com]
Black cohosh herbal remedy
The second at home remedy is the use of natural herbs such as black cohosh. This herb will help in menopausal symptoms relief. However, there aren’t any clinical studies that can prove the role of black cohosh.
Yet another natural supplement that can help in relieving your feminine dryness whose evidence has not been clinically confirmed.
According to womentowomen.com, “grape seed, olive, sweet almond, sunflower, or coconut are great natural oils that are gentle during or after bathing and even with sexual intercourse.” However, other sources warn that these natural oils might irritate your vaginal.
Sylk natural lubricant
This is one of the natural lubricants made from kiwifruit vine which many women find good. It does not contain propylene glycol or parabens and it is less sticky when compared to other lubricants.
Menopause or post menopause dryness treatments
Menopause is one of the main causes this problem, we thought it wise to take a little more time for your clear understanding of how menopause and dryness of vagina come by.
During perimenopause or menopause, a few things change due to reduction and eventual stop in estrogen production. As WebMD notes, “periods become irregular and then stop. You may have hot flashes, mood swings, a deeper voice, and an increase in facial hair.”
One notable thing that also happens during menopause time is vaginal dryness which affects one in every three women. Sometimes, you may experience both this condition and itching. Therefore, dryness in menopause is nothing out of the ordinary.
From the role we have already seen of estrogen, it is normal to expect this condition during menopause with the fall of estrogen levels. As Women’s Health Concern notes, “vaginal dryness can affect any woman, however, after the menopause it is very common, affecting over half of post-menopausal women aged between 51 and 60”.
Pre-menopausal women with low estrogen have shown the tendency of suffering from vaginal dryness too especially those who have had hysterectomy, chemotherapy or breastfeeding.
Menopause dryness natural remedies
For the case of menopause, there are no special treatments that are unique. You will try the various cures we have already discussed for your menopause dryness relief.
Most of these treatments and menopause remedies will involve things such as the use of lubricants, estrogen medication, hormonal replacement therapies, as well as some natural remedies we have already seen.
You cannot miss a good menopause cream for dryness since any vaginal moisturizing cream will work just well for you. Otherwise, look at ways to treat menopause symptoms since they will mean dealing with hormonal changes.
Post-menopausal dryness and treatment
After menopause, postmenopausal lubrication problems will continue for obvious reasons we have already mentioned. Therefore, you should also ensure you get the various dryness after menopause treatments and remedies.
As a matter of fact, the treatment for post-menopausal cases is nothing different from the treatments we have discussed.
You can also try the various natural remedies for post-menopausal dryness which we have also seen. The general idea is they help in replenishing your body with estrogen.
Sex after menopause and lubricant to use
Natural lubrication after menopause might not be much. To avoid effects of having sex while you are not well lubricated, ensure you grab the very nice lubricant which menopausal women can use and those who are not at menopause.
If a dry vagina is something that bothers you so much, consider going for a good cream for menopause dryness like some of the ones we have mentioned besides other treatments.
When to see a doctor due?
Whereas some of the dry vagina treatments such as natural remedies as well as over the counter feminine dryness products or feminine moisture products can help, do not feel too embarrassed to engage your GP. In fact, see your GP if the symptoms are severe to the extent of affecting your normal life or you have very disturbing symptoms such as night sweats and hot flushes.