The symptoms of vaginal dryness vary, and may not necessarily be constant. They include vaginal discomfort, irritation, burning sensation, or itching. You may notice a lower than normal libido (sex drive), difficulty getting aroused, discomfort during sex or painful penetration.
Your vulva may look paler than usual, and your vagina may shorten or narrow. Increased need to urinate and repeated urinary tract infections (UTI) are also a symptom of vaginal dryness.
The main treatments for vaginal dryness are lubricants or vaginal moisturisers, vaginal oestrogen, which is available as pills, creams, or rings that are inserted into the vagina. Lubricants and moisturisers give immediate effects, and can be used in the short-term, whereas the inserts take longer to produce effects.
For women experiencing menopause, hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) is available as a prescription treatment in pill, patch, or implant form. HRT is usually recommended when there are other menopause symptoms also presenting, as it has a wider effect on the body.
The most common cause of a dry vagina is menopause, which causes levels of the sex hormone oestrogen, which is responsible for vaginal lubrication, to decrease. This can cause continual vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, or atrophic vaginitis.
Other causes include:
- Breastfeeding, which also reduces oestrogen levels
- Hormonal contraceptives such as the combined pill or a contraceptive injection
- Cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiotherapy;
- Lack of arousal before sex, which can lead to lack of lubrication and uncomfortable or painful intercourse
- Underlying conditions such as diabetes or Sjögrens syndrome, which affect the bodys fluid-producing glands.
What to do next
Treatment will depend on your individual needs and symptoms. Our gynaecologists are here to help you find the method of care that is best suited to your needs.
Give us a call to make an appointment.
Other than less lubrication, other symptoms of vaginal dryness are more subtle. These include discomfort and irritation, itching, sensation of burning, low libido or less arousal than usual, and pain during sex. Repeat UTIs are also a symptom of vaginal dryness.
It is extremely common for women to experience symptoms of vaginal dryness during menopause, because of the way hormone levels are affected.
Short-term treatments for vaginal dryness include lubricants and moisturisers. Hormone replacements are also effective but take longer to have an effect.