Menopause is a usual phase passed by every woman. Vaginal dryness can be one consequence which may cause pain and discomfort in elderly women. Yet, the problem of vaginal dryness can be faced by women of all ages. It may occur before, during or after menopause.
Causes of Vaginal Dryness
The base cause of vaginal dryness can be thinning of the vaginal lining. This is the result of gradually reducing elasticity, expandability, suppleness of the vaginal walls. This reduction in the capacity of vaginal wall is because of the loss of ovarian estrogen. As the vaginal walls are becoming thinner, they become unable to withstand the pressure of sexual intercourse and might even get damaged resulting in bleeding in some cases. Some other reasons causing vaginal dryness may be irritants coming in contact with delicate tissues, side effects of medication, anxiety etc.
Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness
The common symptoms of vaginal dryness include signs like itching, dryness and painful sex. Sexual intercourse may sometimes result in light bleeding. The person may become prone to frequent urinary tract infections, with frequent urge to urinate. The thinning of vaginal lips also indicates vaginal dryness. Other symptoms include soreness, burning and mild vaginal discharge occasionally.
Treatment of Vaginal Dryness
Once you are facing this problem of vaginal dryness, don’t just ignore it. You can seek expert consultation from medical expert to be sure of the correctness of the treatment that you are opting.
There are several medical prescriptions which will help treat the vaginal dryness. These treatments typically involve topical and oral estrogens.
Estrogen-based therapies: Estrogen based therapies are especially effective in cases where hormonal changes are causing problems with vaginal lubrication and hence the irritation and dryness in vagina. The treatment may be localized like vaginal estrogen inserts. In some cases especially where vaginal dryness is accompanied with hot flashes, oral medication is required. Depending on the individual case, one might require to use both the approaches to get effective treatment. In that situation, the treatment goes two-way by raising the systemic levels of estrogen and simultaneously treating locally with the local inserts into the vagina.
Use of Lubricants: Lack of lubrication is the reason for irritation and vaginal dryness. By using silicone based, oil based or water based products, you can have slight comfort in sexual intercourse and does not really give much relief in terms of long-term solution to the problem of vaginal dryness. These lubricants are very similar to natural lubricants and can be applied around the lip-shaped vulva and vagina before having sexual intercourse.
Vaginal Moisturizers: There are many vaginal moisturizers available over the counter which can help minimize the vaginal dryness for several days with single application. Since they stay for a few days, you don’t need to apply them immediately before the intercourse. These moisturizers hydrate the vagina by introducing water into the vaginal tissue.
Alternative Therapies to Try
The natural approach will focus on diet and exercise. Diet is one of the most crucial factors which can help in managing the symptoms of vaginal dryness. It requires sodium, potassium, calcium, protein and some electrolytes which will contribute to the vaginal fluid coming from the blood stream. When you intake a diet rich in fatty acids, it will help in producing additional vaginal lubrication. Such dietary foods include fish, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and raw pumpkin. Other than the direct intake of diet rich in fatty acids, you can obtain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids in food rich in Vitamin B, Vitamin A and beta-carotene. To balance the diet in treating vaginal dryness, you should also consume foods containing isoflavones which contribute in maintaining estrogen levels. Some of the isoflavones rich foods are flax seed, soy, legumes, nuts and apples.
In addition to diet, plenty of fluid intake is also necessary since the lining of vagina is the same as skin of any other area of body. And sufficient amount of fluid and water intake is a must for our skin.
Regular Exercise is another key factor in healing vaginal dryness. As the Estrogen levels start declining in body with aging, exercise routine can stimulate the adrenal glands and ovaries, thereby contributing towards regulating the hormonal balance in the body. These exercises should include cardiovascular exercise schedule to be followed at least thrice a week for approximately twenty minutes each. This will benefit in blood circulation to the vagina in addition to the overall blood circulation in the body and cardiac health.
There might be a big number of causes for the dryness in vagina, and there are as many ways to treat this irritation and dryness. However, the most effective treatment starts when you know the source which is causing discomfort in your vagina. And the best way is to have the treatment under well experienced Gynecologist.