Grace guide to vaginal dryness
Updated: Mar 28, 2022
For many of you, any topic based on your sexual and reproductive health is regarded as private and confidential. But at Grace, we believe that the more we openly share and discuss such topics, the more people become educated and know how to go about them. If you are reading this you have either heard of vaginal dryness or perhaps you are currently experiencing it. Whatever the case, Grace is here to help, and don’t worry this is a safe place to learn, share and you have nothing to be ashamed/embarrassed about. To understand it, we need to first learn what it means.
What is vaginal dryness?
You’ll be surprised to learn that many people who have a vagina experience vaginal dryness. It is caused by a decrease in the production of mucus in the vagina that dries up the mucus membranes in the entire vagina. This could happen because of various reasons such as; candida/vaginal infections, menopause, breastfeeding, excessive washing of the vagina using soap, and medical reasons. Don’t worry will cover all these reasons in depth shortly but first, there’s a need to learn some signs and symptoms that could hint at vaginal dryness.
What are the signs and symptoms?
From the name, one of the most obvious signs is dryness. However, it does not stop there. Here are some other signs and symptoms to look out for:
An itchy vagina
Pain during sex
A stinging feeling when peeing
Difficulty in using/inserting tampons
Fragile mucus membranes
Mucous membranes that bleed easily
Remember it is important to not self diagnose even if you exhibit most of these signs and symptoms but instead seek medical attention.
What causes vaginal dryness?
Now that we know what to look out for, the next step is to understand what causes it. We had earlier mentioned some of the causes briefly but here is a more extensive look at each of them:
Excessive washing using soap
There’s a reason why soap use is discouraged when washing the vagina. The reason is that most of them if not all soaps dry mucus membranes. Using soap also contributes to general dryness that could increase the risk of catching some vaginal infections such as Candida, Chlamydia, and Bacterial vaginosis and ultimately cause vaginal dryness.
Certain types of medication
Some medication has been proven to cause the drying of mucus membranes as a side effect. It is important to educate or ask your physician about possible side effects especially if you are prone to vaginal dryness. Once you notice that a certain medication is causing dryness, consult with your doctor for alternatives.
It is a fact that the body goes through various changes during pregnancy and will continue to experience more changes after delivery and when healing. The main cause of changes while breastfeeding is fluctuating hormones. Specifically fluctuating estrogen and progesterone hormone levels. A lack of estrogen is responsible for many of the postpartum symptoms women experience, including hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
Since the walls of the vagina have a thin layer of moisture in them when estrogen production starts to decline in menopause, vaginal secretions and moisture lessen, and vaginal dryness may occur. Vaginal dryness during and after menopause happens because of changes in hormone production that cause the vaginal walls to thin. This means there are fewer cells producing moisture, leading to vaginal dryness. The main cause of this is also a reduction in estrogen levels.
Does it affect conception?
The short answer is, yes it does. Vaginal secretions and moisture help reduce friction during sexual intercourse which also helps make it more comfortable. Without enough lubrication, sex becomes uncomfortable and painful. This may make you generally want to avoid sex. Which makes it a huge problem when trying to conceive and timing sex during your fertile window.
When to seek medical help?
Maybe you have experienced vaginal dryness but are wondering when is the right time to seek medical help. The first thing would be to observe yourself for the signs and symptoms we shared. If you exhibit most of them, the next step would be to analyze out of all the causes in which category do you lie. That means if you wash your vagina with soap, you need to stop and see if that changes first. If you are breastfeeding or in menopause then you’ll need to check in with a doctor for a suitable remedy. For those who may be experiencing symptoms of an infection, you’ll need to visit a doctor to diagnose which infection and administer the best medication for it.
How to prevent vaginal dryness?
A few simple tips for you would be to:
Use condoms to prevent some vaginal infections
Refrain from using soap in your vagina. Soap can only be used outside the vagina
If approaching menopause, seek a doctors appointment to get a medical remedy
If you suspect you have some kind of infection, seek medical attention
Vaginal dryness is experienced at different times and ages with different causes. The key to treating it is first identifying the signs and symptoms then getting to the route of what could be causing it. If using soaps then you’ll need to stop. For possible infections, medical attention is required. When approaching menopause also seek medical attention and usually after breastfeeding your vaginal health will resume normalcy but it helps to seek medical attention.
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