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Vaginal dryness causes, symptoms and treatment

Vaginal Dryness, also known as Vaginal atrophy or Atrophic Vaginitis, is a common and distressing condition which afflicts many women in the course of their lives, causing embarrassment, a sense of loss and at times, extreme physical discomfort.

A comfortable, naturally moist vagina which responds to sexual arousal with a surge of vaginal lubrication, can feel like a woman’s birthright. The loss of this, temporary or otherwise, can come as a shock, and be capable of undermining a woman’s sense of her innate womanliness and desirability.

What Causes This Condition?

Vaginal tissue is kept moist, elastic and comfortable by lubrication which is naturally created by glands at the neck of the womb, and governed by the body’s production of Estrogen. When the ovaries’ production of estrogen is disrupted, which can happen for a number of reasons, the vagina can feel itchy, dry and irritated. The resulting discomfort can be debilitating, and impact the comfort and pleasure of sex.

The commonest cause of a decrease in estrogen levels is the menopause. The ovaries make less estrogen during this transition which leads to a thinning of the vaginal tissues and a reduction in the number of lubricating glands. In time, the vagina can become drier, shorter and less supple. For some women, these changes may occur without causing particular discomfort, while for others, distressing symptoms may develop.

For women who are experiencing vaginal dryness but are certainly not perimenopausal, there are many other possible causes. These include life events, such as childbirth and its aftermath, hormone treatments, such as HRT and contraceptives, illness such as cancer and its treatments, medications such as anti depressants and hay-fever remedies, reaction to substances such as nicotine and alcohol, intolerance to preparations used in the vulvar area such as douches and harsh soaps and deep emotional upsets which can affect hormone production.

The following can all account for a change in estrogen levels:

  • Pregnancy
  • Coming off HRT
  • Childbirth
  • Ovulation
  • Breastfeeding
  • Anti-depressants
  • Post episiotomy
  • Candida albicans
  • Heavy cigarette smoking
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Alcohol
  • Post menstruation
  • Stress
  • Hysterectomy
  • Immune disorders
  • Radiation and chemotherapy
  • Allergy and cold medications
  • Early menopause through cancer treatment
  • Douching
  • HRT

Symptoms that can occur:

Dryness, burning, stinging, swelling, chaffing and bleeding
Discomfort if the vulva is inflamed and sore.
Pain when you have sex (Dispareunia)
Infection and discharge may be experienced. The normal vaginal mucus, acidity and tissue elasticity protect against vaginal and urinary tract infections. When these are reduced, so are the natural defenses, and infection meets less resistance. If you feel you have an infection, like Bacterial vaginosis, please see your doctor.
Itching provokes scratching, which aggravates the itching, which leads to more furious scratching – or to the intolerable effort of not scratching. The sensitive skin around the vulva when weakened is prone to inflammation and itching.

Remedies / Treatments

If enough lubrication is not being naturally produced by a woman’s own body, she can ease the dryness and relieve the discomfort with the use of a commercially available water-based intimate lubricant or vaginal moisturizer. Certified organic YES WB (water-based personal lubricant) and YES VM (Vaginal Moisturiser) offer superior moisturizing power and purity, are soothing, kind and rapidly effective. Guaranteed pure and natural by their certified organic status, they both offer instant relief from itching and soreness, their differing formulations offer you choice depending on your needs. Both YES VM and YES WB protect, moisturise and lubricate sensitive tissues naturally.

Many old-style available treatments / lubricants / douches

  • Introduce sugar (glycerins) which can exacerbate candida and yeast infections
  • Are at a pH which is not compatible with the mucus membranes of the vagina
  • Work hormonally, which is not always desirable
  • Have silicone ingredients which coat the surface of the irritated skin in a “Cling film” effect which can prevent healing

Some complementary therapies such as acupuncture may help. Wild Yam extract, Black cohosh and soy isoflavones are also promoted as aids in vaginal dryness.

The avoidance of douches, bubble baths and lotions is recommended.

Do consult your doctor if you experience painful or persistent symptoms.

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