Vaginal dryness is a common and frustrating problem, particularly when it impacts a woman’s ability to enjoy sex. Here is a look at what you need to know about vaginal dryness and the pain during intercourse it often causes.
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
The walls of the vagina are normally coated by a thin layer of moisture in which sperm can survive and travel to facilitate sexual reproduction. These secretions also serve to lubricate the vaginal walls to reduce friction during sexual intercourse.
As women age, hormone production changes can cause the walls of the vagina to thin, which means that fewer cells are available to secrete moisture. The result is often vaginal dryness.
It may also be caused by a range of other issues, such as the use of certain medications, alcohol consumption, smoking, breastfeeding, pregnancy, and psychological issues such as depression, stress, and anxiety.
Relief From Vaginal Dryness and Pain During Intercourse
If you are experiencing regular vaginal dryness, the best course of action is to identify its cause and eliminate it. However, this is not always possible. If your dryness is caused by douching or laundry detergent, discontinuing your use of these products may be enough to turn the problem around. For those whose dryness is linked to surgery or needed medication, however, the solution may be a little more complicated.
One good solution for many women is a vaginal lubricant. There are many different brands on the market that are designed for use prior to and during sexual activity. However, it is important to choose those that are water or silicone-based. Some products contain petroleum, which can damage the latex that makes up condoms or diaphragms and render them ineffective. In addition, petroleum allows bacteria to thrive and potentially lead to infection. For this reason, products like baby oil and Vaseline should also be avoided.
Although lubricants come in many different varieties, including warming and edible formulations, it is important to keep in mind that not all of these products are gentle on vaginal tissue. Those that contain colors, scents, and herbal extracts may be particularly irritating to women who are already experiencing dryness. Women who do not feel comfortable purchasing these products in person can order them online.
There are also commercial vaginal moisturizer products on the market that are designed to help the tissue of the vagina to regain moisture as well as elasticity. It is important to follow the instructions on the package; some products may need to be used a few times a week across a period of a few months to achieve the desired effect. These types of products can also be used as a lubricant prior to sex in some cases, but be sure to consult the label.
Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex
Persistent or recurring pain that occurs before, during, and/or after sex is known as dyspareunia, and it is not uncommon. For some women, pain may be felt externally at the vaginal lips or opening, while some experience internal pain in the lower abdomen, uterus, or cervix.
Unfortunately, this physical pain can lead women to avoid sex, and the loss of intimacy can put a strain on relationships. Therefore, it is important to seek help in determining the underlying cause of the pain so it can be corrected. Although it can sometimes be embarrassing to talk about, it is something that affects as many as 20 percent of American women at some point in their lives and is often easy to treat.
Many times, finding the cause of pain and dryness and finding ways to address it is sufficient. However, there may be other problems behind the pain and dryness that require medical care. For example, uterine fibroids can cause deep pain during intercourse, as can infections of the cervix. Sexually transmitted infections may also cause dryness or pain during sex, and treating them can make it go away. When vaginal dryness is a result of menopause, estrogen creams and other products may provide relief.
It is important to talk openly with your doctor about pain you experience during sexual intercourse. Be prepared to provide details about where the pain occurs, how often it happens and how long you have been experiencing it. They will also ask you about any medications you are taking or prior surgeries you have had in the area.
Reach Out to the Women’s Healthcare Team at Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness
If you are experiencing vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse, get in touch with the women’s healthcare team at Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness. We can help you determine the underlying cause of these issues and find a solution for managing or treating it so you can resume normal sexual activity.