#HealthBytes: What is vaginal dryness, how to deal with it
The hormone estrogen helps keep the lining of the vagina thick and elastic, by keeping it well lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid. However, a drop in this hormone can affect the available moisture. It can happen to women of varied age groups, and owing to a number of reasons. Here are causes, symptoms, treatments, and natural remedies for vaginal dryness.
But first, what leads to vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness is quite common among women going through menopause. In fact, one-third of menopausal women suffer from vaginal dryness. However, general reasons behind fall in estrogen levels could be childbirth, breastfeeding, chemotherapy for cancers, and certain medications. Other potential causes of vaginal dryness are lack of proper foreplay before sex, using douching as a method of contraception, certain allergies, among others.
When to see your doctor?
Common symptoms of vaginal dryness are burning, itching, and irritation in the vaginal area. Pain or bleeding during intercourse could also hint toward the condition. The doctor shall possibly inquire about your health history, and conduct a pelvic exam to rule out vaginal/urinary tract infections.
What are the treatments available
A commonly recommended treatment for vaginal dryness (due to low estrogen levels) is topical estrogen therapy. They are generally given in the form of a vaginal ring, or tablet, or cream. Although this method can help relieve vaginal symptoms, they do not put as much estrogen into your bloodstream, as pills do. Further, over-the-counter treatments such as oil-based lubricants can be used during intercourse.
Are there any natural remedies available?
Apart from medical diagnosis, and over-the-counter medications/treatments, you can also try some simple and natural remedies to counter vaginal dryness. 1) Having sex regularly can help treat vaginal dryness, as it improves blood flow, and stimulates moisture production. 2) Avoid hygiene products that might dry out/irritate the vaginal tissue. 3) Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens (such as nuts, seeds, soy, tofu) may also help.