It’s embarrassing to say, but I’m basically dry as a bone done there. Lube helps, but if I don’t use it every time I feel like I’m being ripped apart. It didn’t used to be this bad. Maybe it has to do with some medication I’m taking? or my age (I just turned 40)? Why is this happening to me?
Rest assured you are not alone. Vaginal dryness is something that most women experience at one time or another, but we just don’t talk about.
Common causes of vaginal dryness are:
1- Low estrogen- Our hormones fluctuate all the time. They go up and down during our monthly cycles, after childbirth, with breastfeeding, and even after a miscarriage or abortion. Over the long term, estrogen levels decrease as we age (although your age-40, which is on the outside of that spectrum, so don’t fret, you likely have plenty of time before you are having the menopause conversation with your doctor). The good news is that if your vaginal dryness is linked to a life event, it may pass with a little time.
2- Medications- If a medication dries out your mouth, nose or throat, you can expect that it will also dry out your vagina. Decongestants and allergy medications are major culprits. Cigarettes will also dry you out. And if you suffer from heart disease, depression, seizures or are fighting cancer, many of these meds have side effects that interfere with sexual pleasure in both men and women. Ask your doctor if there are different meds for your condition that do not have sexual side effects.
3- Irritants and Allergies- It’s worth checking your bathroom cabinet and laundry room to see if you are using products with perfumes or dyes that may be irritating to your sensitive vaginal tissue. Eliminate all products with dyes and perfumes and above all do not douche or use any vaginal deodorants.
4- Low Arousal- When we are aroused, and feeling sexy, that’s the signal for our bodies to produce lubricant. You may not be giving yourself enough time or the right foreplay stimulation to get those juices flowing. Experiment, take more time in the bedroom, change up your routine, and see what happens.
There are several products (the first two can be bought in most drug stores) that you should try to give your body the moisture it is lacking:
Lubricants– These are used during foreplay and penetration to reduce friction that can occur if your body is not producing enough of its own lubricant. Always choose a water-based product, with no added herbals, flavors, perfumes or spermicides. These additions may irritate your already sensitive tissue. Common brands of vaginal lubricant include K-Y Jelly® and Astroglide®. Do not use hand lotions or petroleum-based products, which cannot be used with condoms and may be irritating.
Moisturizers- Vaginal moisturizers are designed to correct your pH balance and keep you moist for a longer period- usually 2-3 days. Replens® and K-Y Liquibeads® are common brands. Vitamin E capsules can also be used and are a more economical option. Many women who suffer from vaginal dryness will use a moisturizer a few times a week and then double up with a lubricant for intercourse.
Topical Estrogens– For women whose vaginal dryness has been diagnosed as a result of low estrogen levels, the treatment is to replenish the estrogen. Typically, a doctor will prescribe topical estrogen gel or lotion (as opposed to taking an estrogen pill).
Introducing healthy fats (avocados, nuts) and staying hydrated (8-10 glasses of water per day) will also help you moisturize from the inside out.
Take Care and thanks for writing.
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