What to Do if You Have Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness is common after menopause and in fact, vaginal dryness can occur even if you haven’t reached menopause. Anxiety, certain medications, changes in your menstrual cycle, childbirth and breastfeeding can all cause a drop in estrogen levels.
Here are some tips to help:
Over-the-counter moisture products that mimic your natural lubrication can be used safely and regularly. K-Y is the #1 doctor recommended brand of personal lubricants and has a wide range of products to fit your every need. If you are just trying out a personal lubricant, try K-Y UltraGel®, a water-based gel that feels great because it is not too sticky or slippery. If you desire discrete lubrication, try K-Y® Liquibeads®, which come in no mess ovule inserts that dissolve in minutes. Experiment with which product is right for you. Just remember, start with a pea-sized amount of personal lubricant – not the whole bottle – and adjust the amount as you become familiar with it.
A Well-Cared-For Body
Keep yourself hydrated, and your entire body will stay hydrated. Similarly, try cutting back on alcohol consumption if you’re having issues with vaginal dryness.
It also couldn’t hurt to add some of these healthy foods to your diet. Food such as avocados, nuts and seeds contain vitamin E, which is thought to aid in relieving vaginal dryness. Also, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center Complementary and Alternative Medicine Health Guide, flaxseed and soy might mimic estrogen in the body.
Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking decreases circulation, which means less blood flowing to the vagina and less lubrication production. Also, skip scented soaps, perfumed bubble bath and douching. Some detergents and scented toilet paper might contain allergens that could be inhibiting your natural lubrication production. Also, take note if you’re using a new type of tampon or condom; they might have a drying effect.
According to the research cited by the National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, soy extract has been shown to thicken the uterine lining, aiding in the production of natural lubrication. Just make sure to ask your doctor if there any natural remedies you might want to try.
Prescription Estrogen Products
If vaginal dryness is severe enough to cause you pain or discomfort, talk to your doctor about a prescription estrogen medication, which is administered as a cream, tablet, suppository or ring. Many women find these treatments effective, but there are some concerns about how much estrogen is absorbed into the bloodstream during use. Estrogen therapy has been linked to increased risk of blood clotting and certain types of cancer. Certain drugs could make estrogen treatments unsuitable, so make sure to discuss this option with your doctor.
Resources (Further Reading)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Menopause
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Menopausal Symptoms and Complementary Health Practices
About the Author
Virginia Pelley is a former senior editor at "Fit Pregnancy" and "Natural Health" magazines who has written for "Shape," "Vegetarian Times," "Details," Al Jazeera America, BUST, the "LA Weekly" and "San Francisco Bay Guardian." She lives in Brooklyn, New York.