Addressing Vaginal Dryness with Compassion and Expertise
While sensitive feminine issues, such as vaginal dryness, may not be topics of casual conversation, women should feel comfortable speaking with their gynecologist about their symptoms and concerns—and take heart that most are common and treatable.
Women may experience vaginal dryness at any age, and as many as one in three experience the condition as part of menopause. The number of sufferers continues to increase with age.
The main cause of vaginal dryness is a reduction in the level of the female hormone estrogen. Estrogen reduction may occur for many reasons, including but not limited to: perimenopause, menopause, childbirth, breast-feeding, cigarette smoking and surgical removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy).
Additionally, certain medical conditions, medications and hygiene practices can cause, or contribute to, the problem.
Menopause is a normal part of aging, and it includes the natural decline of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. As part of the process, the walls of a woman’s vagina may become measurably thinner, less elastic, dryer and more fragile.
The resulting symptoms can range from dryness and discomfort to itching, burning and pain with intercourse.
- vaginal dryness
- vulvar itching
- urinary urgency and frequency
- frequent blad der infections
- vaginal bleeding
- pelvic pain or pressure
- pain during intercourse
Once other causes have been ruled out and a patient’s symptoms have been determined to be the result of low estrogen levels, her physician will recommend a treatment based on her exact condition and preferences. Treatments for vaginal dryness range from topical estrogen therapies, oral medications, hormonal supplements, to vaginal rejuvenation procedures that improve symptoms by increasing blood flow.
- Vaginal Hormone Solutions in the form of a cream, tablet or ring
- Non-estrogen Treatments, like DHEA Supplements
- Oral Medications called Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators, or SERMs, such as Osphena
- Energy-based Vaginal Rejuvenation Solutions, including radio frequency and laser treatments
Before prescribing a solution, your physician will want to know your personal and family medical histories, as well as possible related symptoms and lifestyle considerations.
While it isn’t possible to prevent menopause, or the body’s natural loss of estrogen, there are therapies, medications and products that are effective at improving the symptoms.
And in cases where vaginal dryness is caused by other factors prevention may be possible.
Most physicians recommend avoiding bubble baths, douches and scented soaps, as these may exacerbate the problem. For women experiencing painful intercourse because of vaginal dryness, increased foreplay can aid arousal, and a water-based lubricant may make sex more comfortable and enjoyable.
In addition, vaginal moisturizers and oral medications may be available over the counter, but it’s always best to speak with a physician you trust to rule out more serious causes and to ensure you receive safe and appropriate treatment for your condition.
As a board-certified expert in both Obstetrics and Gynecology (FACOG) and Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS), I have had a great deal of experience treating vaginal dryness, and many other gynecological conditions. I understand the often delicate nature of women’s health and make it a priority to handle each patient with the utmost respect.
If you have questions or concerns about GYN issues of any kind, please contact my office for an appointment: 910.509.0103.
December 03, 2019