Vulvovaginal Atrophy: Causes, Treatment and Natural Remedies for Vaginal Dryness
Vulvovaginal atrophy, commonly called vaginal dryness or vaginal atrophy, can occur at any age in a woman. It is however, more common in women who are closer to or have gone through menopause and while not being a life-threatening condition, it can come with a lot of discomfort and even pain, especially during sexual intercourse.
Although quite a number of factors may cause vaginal dryness, this health complication is majorly a symptom of menopause and 1 in 3 women going through menopause will experience it. Vaginal atrophy is dryness women experience in the vaginal region and it can be a painful incident for any woman. It is caused by a drop in estrogen levels.
Estrogen is one of the female hormones responsible for the development of sexual characteristics in women. It is also responsible for keeping the vaginal tissues thick, elastic and healthy and does this by ensuring the normal vaginal lubrication is maintained.
Women going through vulvovaginal atrophy or vaginal dryness would have experienced a drop in this estrogen levels over time that would present itself in symptoms such as vaginal itching, burning and discomfort. Some reasons why women experience a drop in their estrogen levels include
- going through certain cancer treatment like radiation and chemotherapy
- childbirth and breastfeeding
- surgical removal of the ovaries
- the use of nicotine products
- using tampons with a higher-than required absorbency ratings
- making use of scented soaps
- taking bubble baths
- applying lotions to the vaginal region
- the use of certain anti-estrogen medications used in the treatment of fibroids or endometriosis
Vaginal atrophy or vaginal dryness comes with symptoms such as:
- Soreness or pain in the vagina.
- Pain at the entrance of the vulva
- Pain felt during sex
- The risk of developing urinary tract infections
- Possible bleeding after sex.
- Tightening of the vaginal opening and a narrowing of the vaginal walls which is what causes pain during sex.
- Thinner vaginal lips
- Frequent need to urinate
What Causes Vaginal Dryness
From research, women who have experienced vsginal atrophy or dryness have listed one or more of the following factors as a reason for their dryness and discomfort. These factors include:
This is one of the most common causes of vulvovaginal atrophy or vaginal dryness and over 30% of women going through this phase will experience it.
2.Certain Allergy and Cold Medications
Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine used in the treatment of cold and certain allergies have also been known to cause some side effects which include vaginal dryness and difficulties urinating.
Some antidepressant, while being effective in improving the moods of the patient, will bring about a few uncomfortable side effects, one of which is vaginal atrophy. Luckily, this symptom usually resolves itself once the medication is discontinued.
Women who carry out douching do it with the belief it will clean out the vaginal, eliminate bacteria, remove odour and even prevent pregnancy. However, douching, while actually cleaning the vaginal, does more harm than good in the long run. In carrying out this cleaning, it eliminates both the good and the bad bacteria and since both bacteria types have to be present to maintain the natural PH level, this leaves the vaginal PH level disrupted, leaving you prone to infections and other uncomfortable conditions like vaginal dryness and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
Sjogren’s Syndrome is a long term autoimmune disorder involving certain glands in your body that produce moisture. While this disorder causes the inflammation of the salivary and tear glands, leading to dry eyes and mouth it could attack the vaginal tissues that produce moisture, leading to them becoming inflamed and in turn causing vaginal dryness or vulvovaginal atrophy
6.Removal of the Ovaries and Vaginal Dryness
Removal of the ovaries, one of the female organs responsible for the release of a mature egg each month, leads to immediate menopause. With this menopause comes symptoms associated with menopause like hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue and vaginal dryness.
How is Vaginal Atrophy or Dryness Diagnosed
Vaginal dryness or atrophy is diagnosed when the symptoms associated with this condition become more pronounced or uncomfortable for the sufferer. Your gynecologist or any other health care provider would usually review factors such as your age, habits, and any other symptoms you may be experiencing and these would be used at arriving at a cause for your vulvovaginal atrophy or vaginal dryness.
How is Vulvovaginal Atrophy or Vaginal Atrophy Treated
There are a number of treatment options available to sufferers of this condition. If the dryness is caused by one or more medications, your doctor would consider discontinuing or changing the medications if possible. If the dryness is as a result of a drop in your estrogen or menopause, your doctor would also look into starting an estrogen therapy to replenish and balance the drop being experienced.
Key ways to replenish a drop in estrogen levels include:
1.The Use of Rings
The use of vaginal rings in the treatment of low estrogen levels is one of the options available to women with vaginal dryness. This ring is inserted into the vaginal and releases a small amount of hormones into the surrounding vaginal tissues at intervals and this hormone gets absorbed and used by the body.
Estring, an opaque-like, soft, flexible ring, is commonly used for this. It comes with a center containing 2 mg of estradiol (estrogen hormone) that gets released into the vaginal tissues at intervals for a period of 90 days. It should consequently be replaced every three months.
2.The Use of Tablets
Estradiol tablets like Vagifem and Vagisil Maximum have been known to be effective in the treatment of vaginal dryness. This tablet is inserted into the vaginal using a disposable applicator. You insert one tablet a day for two weeks after which you go down to a twice weekly insertion, until the dryness disappears.
Vaginal moisturizers in the forms of creams or gels are also very effective in stopping vaginal atrophy and come with the added advantage of bringing immediate relief. They can be gotten online or from your local stores and like vaginal tablets, are applied using an applicator.
[G] Female Stimulating Gel with Primrose Oil and Vagisil are some good gels you can use to stop vaginal dryness.
[G] Female Stimulating Gel with Primrose Oil, Arousal Lube for Sex - Ocean Sensuals
[G] Female Stimulating Gel with Primrose Oil on its part is a water-based gel made from high-quality natural ingredients and is designed to mimic natural cervical mucus. [G] Female Stimulating Gel, besides being a quick fix for vaginal dryness, will also enhance female libido and increase sexual sensitivity due to its high concentration of the compounds, niacin and arginine.
This vaginal gel will help you enjoy sexual encounters with your partner and its and evening primrose oil ingredients will boost sensitivity more than ever before
It comes in a bottle with an easy-to-use, self-sealing pump. Use a single pump (or according to your preference) to increase sensitivity. Apply this lubricant gel to your clitoris and the surrounding area, your partner’s body, or your favorite toy. You can get more frequent and intense orgasms using [G].
Women Who Shouldn’t Use Estrogen Therapy or Products
While rare, there are those few women who shouldn’t use estrogen therapy or products as doing so would exacerbate whatever problem they have. Some of these women include:
- Women diagnosed of breast cancer.
- Women with a history of endometrial cancer.
- Women who experience unexplained vaginal bleeding.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women.
- Women who take nicotine.
Natural Remedies for Vulvovaginal Atrophy or Vaginal Dryness
There are also a number of natural remedies women can employ to put an end to vaginal dryness. However, most of these remedies, while being effective and quick acting, only offer temporary relief and would need to be applied every single time you need a quick fix. Some of these remedies include:
Honey is a natural lubricant and will help reverse the inflammation you experience. It should be applied deep with the vaginal and outside to bring about ease and prevent pain during sexual intercourse.
Aloe vera is yet another effective remedy for women with vaginal atrophy. It can be applied topically around the vaginal region or ingested in a glass of warm water.
This might seem like a very unconventional remedy, but quite a number of women swear by its effectiveness. To use, add 10-15 drops of rosewater into a glass of milk and rinse your vaginal with this solution five to sex times daily until the dryness disappears.