Vaginal dryness (atrophy)
- One of the most frequent symptoms of vaginal dryness is pain or discomfort when having sex. Sometimes, friction on your delicate skin can lead to bleeding or spotting.
- Other common indicators are vaginal itching or irritation, or you may sometimes experience minor incontinence.
- You may even notice that the appearance of your vagina has changed slightly, with the skin looking thinner and less elastic.)
- In a severe case of vaginal dryness, you may be more susceptible to bacterial vaginal infections. This can happen if the natural acidic pH level of your vagina has become imbalanced as a result of your dryness.
- Everyday discomfort when sitting, walking or wearing tight clothing.
Any or all of these common problems suggest that vaginal dryness is spoiling your fun.
Vaginal Dryness is caused by a fall in oestrogen levels. The most common cause of this fall in hormone levels is the menopause.
The average age of the menopause is 52 in the UK. During menopause the ovaries stop producing the female hormone oestrogen and levels begin to decrease. One of the first signs of reduced oestrogen on the vagina is reduced lubrication during sexual activity. Without the production of oestrogen, the skin and support tissues of the lips (vulva) and vagina become thinner and less elastic and the vagina can become dry. Around 58% of post-menopausal women experience vaginal atrophy. Unlike other symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness does not usually improve post menopause. It is possible to experience vaginal atrophy more than 10 years after your final period. If you experience vaginal symptoms, it is likely that they will persist or worsen over time unless they are treated. Read more about the symptoms of Menopause here
Menopause is the most common cause of vaginal dryness however it can also be caused by other factors:
- Vaginal dryness can be a side effect of medical treatments and certain drugs, especially oestrogen suppressants such as Tamoxifen which is usually taken for around five years following chemotherapy. Other drug treatments such as allergy and cold medications, some antidepressants and the contraceptive pill, can also lead to vaginal dryness.
- The hormones of pregnancy, high oestrogen and progesterone, decline rapidly after delivery. The result is an almost menopausal state with respect to vaginal lubrication.
(ReplensMD has not been tested during pregnancy therefore is only to be used when recommended by a health professional)
- Pre-menopausal women who have their ovaries removed during a hysterectomy will experience menopausal symptoms, including vaginal dryness, as a result of a loss of hormones. These changes are more dramatic in women whose ovaries have been removed as this causes menopause to occur more abruptly, however, even young women requiring hysterectomy whose ovaries remain intact will experience some drop in hormone levels as a result.
- Autoimmune disorders such as sjögrens syndrome, lupus, scleroderma, lichen sclerosis all report vaginal dryness as a common symptom. 68% of members with Sjogren's Syndrome have reported vaginal dryness.
- Psychological triggers such as stress, anxiety and depression can cause fluctuations in natural hormone levels and subsequently cause or increase the severity of vaginal dryness. Unresolved relationship problems can also result in decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual activity, loss of libido, and problems with arousal.
Other reasons for vaginal dryness before the menopause can be linked to hygiene products such as feminine sprays and harsh soaps, swimming pool and hot tub chemicals and some washing powders.
ReplensMD vaginal moisturiser can help to relieve the symptoms of vaginal dryness by delivering moisture directly to skin cells. ReplensMD is a longer lasting moisturiser that sticks to cells and delivers continuous moisture until they are naturally shed approximately every 2 – 3 days, as a result it only needs to be applied once every three days. Click here to find out more.
Alternative treatments for vaginal dryness include HRT and topical oestrogen creams and pessaries. You will need to speak with your doctor to find out which hormonal treatment will work best for you. ReplensMD can be safely used alongside HRT and topical oestrogen preparations.
Lubricants can be used to relieve pain during intercourse as they sit on the surface of the skin to reduce friction. Lubricants are not absorbed into the skin cells and so cannot provide the same long-term relief as moisturisers. Some users may find that on first using ReplensMD a lubricant is necessary to reduce friction during intercourse but this should not be necessary in the long term as ReplensMD can aid the return of natural secretions.