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What is Vaginal Dryness?

By A. Ribken
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Vaginal dryness is usually experienced by women who have undergone menopause, but can occur at any time. The main culprit of a burning vagina is a decrease of estrogen, a female hormone, which can occur as a result of a variety of hormonal or external factors.

Childbirth, breastfeeding, perimenopause, and menopause are all causes of vaginal irritation due to a change in hormonal health as a result of major reproductive events. Any time the chemical balance of the vaginal tissue is disturbed, dryness can result.

Birth control medication, antihistamines, and antidepressant therapy can lead to a dry vagina. Birth control may affect the natural balance of vaginal tissue, much like any other hormonal change. Antihistamines are designed to decrease the moisture in the body, and some antidepressants have the same effect, leading to vaginal irritation and vaginal dryness.

Immune disorders, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also culprits in vaginal dryness. Sjogren's Syndrome, an immune disorder hallmarked by a decrease in fluids of the body, or treatment for certain cancers can also lead to vaginal pain, dryness, and itching.

Frequent douching affects the chemical balance of vaginal tissue, and instead of correcting the problem of vaginal dryness, can actually make it worse.

The hallmark symptoms of a dry vagina are vaginal itching, pain or burning. Sex can be quite uncomfortable without proper lubrication, leading to vaginal burning and a decreased interest in sex. Estrogen levels are very important in maintaining the health of vaginal tissue, keeping it flexible and elastic. A decrease in hormonal levels affects this and the sensitive chemical balance needed in order to maintain proper vaginal health.

Being aware of the causes of vaginal dryness can help women avoid the symptoms. Keeping well-hydrated by drinking enough water and using over-the-counter lubricants are only two ways to ease symptoms of a dry vagina. Doctors can provide other remedies, to include an estrogen cream or tablet to help maintain healthy tissue.

In some cases, especially if a woman is experiencing other symptoms of menopause or perimenopause, the period of time just before menopause occurs, a doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy. Keep in mind not all women are candidates for this kind of treatment, but it may be helpful in staving off vaginal dryness and associated unpleasantness.

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Discussion Comments
By donasmrs — On Feb 06, 2014

I had vaginal dryness symptoms (itchy outer vagina and pain during sex) after entering menopause, as well as vaginal tightness. My doctor gave me a combination of hormone therapy, vaginal creams and vaginal dilators for treatment. It's been five years and thankfully, all of my issues have resolved.

By turquoise — On Feb 06, 2014

@ysmina-- You have no reason to be embarrassed. Most women will experience vaginal dryness at least once in their lives.

I'm not a doctor but the cause of your vaginal dryness could be a hormonal imbalance. I urge you to make an appointment with your gynecologist at the soonest. Tell her about your problems and she will request a blood test to check your hormone levels. If the issue is a hormone imbalance, treatment is actually fairly easy. You can take hormones to fix the imbalance or if you know the underlying cause, you can try to eliminate it.

Meanwhile, pick up a lubricant from the pharmacy and use it during intercourse.

By ysmina — On Feb 05, 2014

I recently developed vaginal dryness and I have no idea why. I'm too young for menopause, I haven't given birth and I'm not on any medications. I'm actually a very healthy person overall and I've never had this sort of issue before.

The dryness is so bad that intercourse is unbearably painful now. I had to stop my husband the other day due to the pain. I feel so embarrassed about this and I'm not sure what to do. Is anyone else in this situation? What cause vaginal dryness in young women? How can I deal with it?

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