Do you have pain and discomfort while having intercourse? Is this impacting your sex life? Most women in India ask a basic question to their gynecologists, “How to relieve dryness from the intimate area so that we have a smoother sex life?”. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options you can opt for so that you have a better sex life.
Normally, the vaginal walls stay lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid which is maintained by the female hormone, estrogen. Vaginal dryness is a basic condition that occurs when there is a drop in the estrogen level. This lowers the lubrication and eventually causes dryness in your intimate area. This condition is also known as Vaginal atrophy.
Why There Is Dryness?
Now that you know the main reason for dryness, let’s have a look at why there is a decrease in the estrogen level. The estrogen levels start to decrease as women approach menopause. The other causes of the decrease in low estrogen are-
- Childbirth and breast-feeding
- Cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation
- Ovaries are surgically removed to treat any condition
- Usage of anti-estrogen drugs for breast cancer or endometriosis
There are other reasons for dryness in the vagina-
- Usage of antihistamines- Drugs used for cold and allergy symptoms dry up secretions. These have side effects such as vaginal dryness as well as difficulty in urinating.
- Usage of antidepressants- If you consume antidepressants then you can have sexual side effects such as vaginal dryness, decreased libido and difficulty achieving orgasm.
- Sjögren’s syndrome- This is an autoimmune disorder in which the salivary and tear glands get inflamed. This can also cause vaginal dryness as the vaginal lining can also get inflamed.
Vaginal dryness is a common phenomenon in elder women but can occur in any age group. Now let’s discuss some symptoms that you can feel.
What Are The Symptoms?
Apart from pain and discomfort, you’ll be likely to feel any of these following symptoms-
- Soreness, itching or burning sensation in and around the vagina
- Slight bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Mild vaginal discharge
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Mood changes
if you have any of these symptoms, then visit a doctor immediately.
Quick Tip: Some Important Information Related to Vaginal Dryness and Treatment
How Vaginal Dryness is Diagnosed?
When you visit the doctor, he’ll ask you some basic questions as there is no specific single test to diagnose vaginal dryness. The doctor may perform a pelvic exam and have a look at your medical history, especially your menstrual health.
The pelvic exams help the doctor to rule out other causes of discomfort, such as an infection. They check for any changes in the vaginal walls and may collect samples of cells or vaginal discharge.
What To Do For Vaginal Dryness?
There are various treatment options you can try for vaginal dryness. These can broadly be categorized into two categories-
- Non-surgical treatment
- Surgical treatment using laser
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
- Topical Estrogen Therapy- These medications help to replenish the hormone your body is no longer making. This is the most common treatment for vaginal dryness. In order to get relief from the symptoms, apply these medications directly to the area.
The following are the most prescribed topic estrogen therapies recommended by a doctor-
- Estring/Vaginal ring- This soft, flexible ring is inserted into your vagina which releases low amounts of estrogen into the tissues continuously. It is advised that replace the ring every 3 weeks.
- Vagifem/Vaginal tablet- With the help of a disposable applicator, you insert a tablet into the vaginal for the first two weeks of treatment. Then you can gradually shift it to twice a week.
- Estrace/Vaginal cream- Similar to the tablet, apply the cream into the vagina with the help of an applicator daily for 1 to 2 weeks or as per doctor’s recommendation.
Avoid using this treatment option if you are pregnant or breast-feeding or know someone who has a history of breast cancer.
2. Home Remedies- To combat vaginal dryness, try these simple life changes-
- Hygiene products- Products, such as body products and personal hygiene products, contain fragrances and dyes that can cause irritation or dryness around the vagina. You should know that the vagina contains good bacteria which helps in self-cleaning. As this is a sensitive area, there is no need for using fragrant soaps.
- Foods that contain phytoestrogens- Consume plant-based foods including soy, nuts, seeds and tofu which are rich in phytoestrogens. These are compounds similar to estrogen but found in plants.
- Regular sex- Regular sex helps to increase the blood flow to the vaginal tissues which helps to stimulate the production of moisture. This will make sex more enjoyable for you!
- Wear comfortable undergarments- Instead of synthetic underwear, wear cotton ones as these promote airflow and allows your vagina to breathe.
Painless Laser Surgery For Vaginal Dryness
With the advancement of technology, there has been an up-gradation of medical equipment also. The latest laser-based procedures can cure the condition of vaginal dryness without any pain! In this laser vaginal dryness treatment, laser beams generate heat and stimulate collagen production in the vaginal tissues which restore strength and elasticity. This, in turn, increases blood flow to the vaginal tissues and hence increases lubrication. The whole treatment takes approximately four sessions to complete. Thinking if this treatment option is safe or not? These laser-based procedures are approved by the U.S. Drugs and Food Administration for treating vaginal dryness.