Real talk: nothing is fun when your vagina feels like the Sahara Desert took up residence there. Unfortunately, thousands of women have to face the frustrations of vaginal dryness. This is especially true for women who have gone through menopause.
But before you blame the issue on your partner for not getting you “in the mood,” it’s a good idea to make sure your vaginal dryness isn’t part of a different issue.
What are the Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness?
The most common symptom of vaginal dryness is a noticeable lack of lubrication that’s often accompanied by pain during sex. However, some women will also notice pain while performing other activities as simple as sitting, standing, peeing, and exercising.
Other symptoms include your vaginal lips thinning from dehydration, watery vaginal discharge—often accompanied by a nasty smell—and even itching and burning sensations. Yikes.
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
- – Lack of arousal: If you’re not getting enough foreplay before penetration, your vagina can’t correctly lubricate your sensitive bits, which can quickly lead to sexual pain.
- – Stress: Vaginal dryness can be a side effect of an inability to stop thinking about your problems and let yourself enjoy some sexy time with your partner.
- – Hygiene products: If you’re in the habit of using lots of sprays, washes, or scented soaps on your vagina and vulvar area, you could be causing a PH imbalance that triggers vaginal dryness. Switch to a wash that is pH balanced for your vagina. It could make a huge difference.
- – Swimming: Your vaginal dryness could simply be a side effect of spending too much time soaking in the chemical-infused water of swimming pools and hot tubs. Before you soak, or get down and dirty in the pool, think twice. If you’re having vaginal dryness issues, it may be best to limit these activities.
- – Low estrogen: Because estrogen triggers the moisturizing process, vaginal dryness is a common problem for women with low estrogen levels. Breastfeeding moms and hysterectomy and chemotherapy patients often struggle with this.
How Can I Make It Better?
When your vagina is struggling to produce its own moisture, it needs a little TLC. Just like any other dehydrated skin on your body. However, because your vagina is so sensitive, you can’t just slap some body lotion on there and walk away.
You’ll need a special vaginal cream or moisturizer to help restore those PH balances and coax your glands back into producing moisture on their own. Once you’re back to normal, incorporating a gentle moisturizer into your weekly routine can be a smart choice if you regularly find things drying up down there.
What are the Best Moisturizing Solutions for Vaginal Dryness?
Your treatment for vaginal dryness really depends on what your problem stems from. So before you start buying and applying creams, it’s wise to speak with your doctor and get to the core of the issue.
- Lubricants: If your problem indeed stems from a lack of arousal, simply apply a water-based lubricant to your vulvar area. You can also try some natural oils, such as coconut, sunflower, grapeseed, olive, or sweet almond oils. Just be sure to avoid glycerin- and propylene-based lubricants. They can cause even more irritation to your sensitive vag!
- Moisturizers: When your vaginal dryness comes from a pH imbalance, a moisturizer should get you back on track. These moisturizers are typically applied 2–3 times per week and keep your vagina moist all day. Moisturizing options include creams or gels that you insert with an applicator and slow-release capsules that you place inside your vagina. If you’re really struggling, your doctor may prescribe a specific cream treatment to get you back on track. Once your vagina can handle things on its own, you can use weekly moisturizers to maintain the correct pH levels.
- Estrogen Therapy: Because estrogen levels aren’t quite as easy to fix as pH levels, women with low estrogen may require some special prescriptions to fix their dryness issues. Common estrogen-replacement prescriptions include a vaginal estrogen ring, estrogen cream, and estrogen tablets. All of these will need to be prescribed by your doctor, who will help you determine the best form and dosage to correct your estrogen levels.
Vaginal dryness is certainly not fun, but thankfully it’s not something you have to live with, either. If you’re struggling with any vaginal dryness symptoms, visit your doctor as soon as possible. And be sure to properly care for your vagina with a gentle hygiene routine. One that doesn’t upset your pH balance and keeps you moisturized every day. Then sit back and enjoy how much better your life (and sex!) become.
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.