Vaginal Dryness Can Be Painful Problem if Not Addressed

Women's Health Update

Vaginal dryness is something many women experience at some time in their lives.

Estrogen works to keep the tissues in the vagina healthy and lubricated with a clear fluid made by the vaginal lining, according to the National Institutes of Health’sOff Site Icon (NIH).

The fluid helps decrease overall vaginal dryness and keeps sexual intercourse from being uncomfortable, according to the NIH.

As estrogen levels drop, vaginal tissue shrinks and becomes thinner, which causes dryness and inflammation, according to the NIH. A variety of things can cause estrogen levels to drop, including: 

Some women experience vaginal dryness while breastfeeding and right after giving birth because estrogen levels are lower during these times, according to the NIH.

Women experiencing vaginal dryness will notice symptoms including burning during urination, light bleeding after intercourse, painful sexual intercourse, and vaginal soreness, according to the NIH.

Aside from the symptoms you share, your health care provider can diagnose vaginal dryness by doing a pelvic exam.                                                  

There are a variety of options to help treat vaginal dryness. Women should check with their health care provider before deciding which is right for them. According to the NIH, treatments could include:

  • Using lubricants and vaginal moisturizing creams both can help 
  • During intercourse, use a water-soluble vaginal lubricant. Avoid products made with petroleum jelly, mineral oil, and other oils

Your health care provider can prescribe a form of estrogen to help with vaginal dryness, according to the NIH. 

Estrogen for vaginal dryness can be in the form of a cream, tablet, suppository or ring, according to the NIH. These medicines are placed directly into the vagina to deliver estrogen to the vaginal area, and only a little estrogen is absorbed into the bloodstream.

If your vaginal dryness comes along with other symptoms of menopause, you can talk to your doctor about using a form of hormone therapy – such as a skin patch or a pill, according to the NIH.

For more information about vaginal dryness, talk with your doctor or find a physician.