Vaginal dryness: causes, treatment and prevention of this discomfort which affects 30% of women

Vaginal dryness is the insufficiency or absence of natural moistening of the vagina. Indeed, thanks to the flow of a transparent mucous membrane intended to protect the vaginal walls and to express female excitement, the vagina maintains its elasticity and keeps a soft texture. In addition to pain, vaginal dryness can affect the harmony of the couple and lead to psychological disorders in women. Stress, fear, guilt and low libido are all obstacles to personal fulfillment.

A third of women suffer from it during menopause.

A US study that took into account data from the Study of Women Across the Country (SWAN) by following more than 2,400 women over a period of 17 years showed that at baseline, 19.4% of women (aged 42 to 53) had reported vaginal dryness. By the time the women in the study were aged 57 to 69, 34% of them were complaining of symptoms of vaginal dryness. However, more than 50% of women had not reported vaginal dryness to their doctor or other health specialist. Which shows that vaginal dryness is a taboo. These data were studied and highlighted in a study published on June 20, 2018 in the scientific journal Menopause.

Causes of vaginal dryness

The causes of vaginal dryness are multiple, namely:

– Stress, fear (anxiety) and fatigue

Whatever its origin, stress causes poor lubrication of the vaginal walls. Postmenopausal women are the most affected by stress. Along with fatigue and fear, it is one of the first factors blocking the process of sexual arousal and the natural moistening of the vagina.

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– Taking certain medications

If you must take antidepressants, anti-acne treatments, anti-hypertensives, vasoconstrictors, antihistamines, birth control pills or other medications, be sure to read the instructions carefully. If a drug can cause dry mouth, it can also dry out other mucous membranes and lead to vaginal dryness. If in doubt, do not hesitate to seek the advice of a doctor. Chemotherapy and radiation can also increase the risk of suffering from vaginal dryness.

– Menopause

At the time of menopause, hormonal disorders as well as estrogen deficiency are inevitable and lead to an imbalance of vaginal lubrication.

– Hormonal disorders (decreased estrogen levels) and ovarian disorders.

– The pregnancy :

During the first three months of pregnancy, the woman may suffer from transient vaginal dryness which should normally recover as soon as the pelvic region begins to become engorged with blood again.

– Breastfeeding can also be a source of hormonal disruption.

– Vaginal infections (eg vaginal mycosis). – Intimate toilets that are too excessive.

– Tobacco consumption, because of the vasoconstrictor effect caused by nicotine.

– Alcohol consumption, a source of dehydration in the body.

– The absence or scarcity of sexual intercourse.

When a woman goes through menopause and her estradiol levels drop, her body goes through many changes. Among these changes is a decrease in vaginal blood flow, which leads to vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse.

Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness

Painful penetration is one of the most common symptoms of vaginal dryness. This can be accompanied by burning and itching. The appearance of micro-lesions on the vaginal walls, caused by friction and the absence of mucous membrane can also indicate the presence of an imbalance in the natural humidification of the vagina. Women with vaginal dryness may also be more susceptible to vaginal inflammation and infection accompanied by itching or odorous discharge.

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Vaginal dryness treatments

There are many treatments to relieve vaginal dryness

The use of lubricants

Vaginal dryness is often a source of discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse. It is for this reason that the use of lubricants can be useful. Attention, the use of this type of product requires great precaution, remember to seek advice from your pharmacist. Preferably, opt for silicone or water-based lubricants over those that are oil-based or petroleum jelly, which can make condoms porous and irritate the mucous membranes. Some lubricants contain hyaluronic acid, vitamin PP and glycerol.

These products have the advantage of rehydrating and lubricating the vagina at the same time. This rehydration can last from a few hours to a few days. These gels are particularly suitable for postmenopausal women for daily use. These products often have a pH close to the vagina, usually with a pH of 4.5. It is advisable to apply the lubricant to the partner as well as to the opening of the vagina.

Vaginal moisturizers

Vaginal moisturizers act on the vaginal tissue, in particular by increasing the amount of water in the cells of the vaginal wall. Unlike lubricants that do not alter the vaginal tissues, moisturizers can help cure vaginal dryness, at least in part. In general, vaginal moisturizers are applied 2 to 5 times a week in the vagina and at its opening. Hyaluronic acid is a moisturizing molecule that is often preferred. But as we saw above, there are also products that have both a lubricating and moisturizing function.

Natural solutions to vaginal dryness

Many plants such as sage, soy, flax or cimicifuga are known for their benefits against vaginal dryness. Thanks to their phytoestrogen content, they have the ability to activate the natural hydration of the vagina. Red clover also has these virtues and can be prescribed in case of insufficient humidification of the vagina.

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In order to prevent vaginal dryness, it is advisable to:

– limit intimate toilets in order to maintain the balance of the flora of Döderlein or vaginal flora

– use a product that is not likely to harm the acidity of the vaginal flora during intimate toilets, a mild soap with a neutral PH for example

– do not use panty liners and tampons too regularly because their absorption capacity can in the long term contribute to drying out the vagina

– avoid wearing tight pants that can irritate the vulva due to friction. Cotton underwear is also preferred

– maintain regular sexual activity which will improve the blood circulation of the genitals and prevent the risk of atrophy

– favor foreplay during sexual relations in order to promote natural humidification

– evacuate stress and take care of yourself

– protect yourself with a light application of day cream before swimming because chlorinated water can promote itching.


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