Vaginal Dryness Specialist
Vaginal dryness becomes more common as women age, and it can also occur as a result of infections and hormonal changes due to breastfeeding. Northwest Women’s Center provides a variety of different treatments for vaginal dryness, helping women in Houston, TX, feel more comfortable and enjoy better health.
Vaginal Dryness Q & A
The vagina produces lubricating fluids that help maintain the health of the vagina and prevent infection while also preventing pain and discomfort during intercourse. But sometimes, the normal production of vaginal fluid can be interrupted, causing vaginal dryness. Hormonal fluctuations like those that occur during and after pregnancy, during breastfeeding and especially during menopause are the primary cause of vaginal dryness, as well as accompanying symptoms like itching, burning, pain during intercourse, irritation and even an increased risk of vaginal infections. Vaginal dryness can also be caused by some underlying medical conditions and use of certain medications.
Vaginal atrophy is a condition that develops most commonly during menopause when a decline in natural hormones causes a decrease in vaginal lubrication as well as thinning of the vaginal tissues. Women with vaginal atrophy typically experience irritation and inflammation in the vagina that can make intercourse extremely painful and increase the risks of both vaginal and urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Vaginal dryness that occurs as a result of the decline in estrogen and progesterone can be treated with topical creams and ointments to help lubricate the vagina and reduce symptoms like irritation and painful intercourse. Some topical preparations contain estrogen that’s absorbed by the vagina and helps restore the tissues so symptoms are reduced. Other women benefit from hormone replacement therapy (HRT) using bioidentical hormones. HRT uses pills, patches or other delivery techniques to replace hormones lost due to menopause, and it can be effective in restoring the vaginal tissues as well as treating other menopause-related symptoms. Bioidentical hormones have the same chemical structure as hormones naturally produced by the body, so the body processes these medications the same way it processes natural hormones for fewer side effects compared to traditional hormone replacement treatments. Ongoing blood tests help ensure dosing remains on track for each woman’s evolving needs. Today, there are also laser treatments that can be used to treat vaginal dryness. In these treatments, a wand-shaped device inserted into the vagina emits controlled pulses of laser energy to stimulate the production of collagen, restoring vaginal lubrication while also helping to address issues of vaginal thinning.
There are a number of factors that may increase your risk of developing vaginal dryness, including:
- Hormonal changes such as menopause or childbirth
- Certain medications (such as antihistamines and some antidepressants)
- Chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer treatment
- Low estrogen levels due to age or medical conditions
- Allergy medication
- Stress and lack of sleep
- Douching or the use of scented products on the vulva area
Your healthcare provider at Northwest Women's Center in Houston, TX, will conduct a physical exam and may also use laboratory tests to help diagnose vaginal dryness. Your doctor may ask questions about your medical history, including any medications you are taking or hormonal changes that might be causing the problem. Blood tests may be used to measure hormone levels as well as check for infections or other causes of your symptoms.
There are several things you can do to address vaginal dryness naturally. First, make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day and eating a nutritious diet. This will help give your body the hydration it needs to produce natural lubrication. Additionally, reducing stress levels and getting enough sleep can also help increase vaginal moisture. Natural remedies for vaginal dryness include using coconut oil or other natural oils as lubricants during sexual activity, applying aloe vera gel or yogurt directly onto the affected area, or taking dietary supplements like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E.
The duration of vaginal dryness you experience will depend on the underlying cause. In some cases, it can be a temporary issue that resolves itself after a few days or weeks. If the dryness is due to hormonal changes or medications, it may take longer to resolve, and your doctor may recommend treatments such as hormone therapy to relieve your symptoms.
The best way to reduce or prevent vaginal dryness is to identify and address any underlying causes. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking that may be contributing to the problem, as well as any lifestyle factors such as diet, stress levels, and sleep habits that could be affecting your hormone balance. Additionally, using a natural lubricant during sexual intercourse can help reduce friction and improve your comfort.
Vaginal dryness will typically cause discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse. Additionally, it can increase your risk of infection or irritation due to increased friction in the affected area. You might also experience issues such as itching, burning, stinging, or soreness that does not improve with home remedies. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is wise to speak to a doctor at Northwest Women's Center of Houston, TX, to discuss your needs and find ways to treat vaginal dryness to ensure you are more comfortable.