Your vaginal walls naturally have a thin layer of mucus. This mucus lubricates your vagina to keep it comfortable and reduce friction during sexual intercourse. But vaginal dryness is a common problem that develops when there’s not enough moisture down there.
Vaginal dryness can cause itching, discomfort, and pain with sex. These symptoms are often linked to menopause, but what does it mean when you’re dealing with vaginal dryness and you’re not in menopause?
It’s time to learn more about other possible causes of vaginal dryness so you can find relief. A. Michael Coppa, MD, and our team provide comprehensive gynecologic care for women of all ages. We’re here to identify the cause of your discomfort and help you find a treatment that works.
Possible causes of vaginal dryness
Estrogen is the hormone that controls vaginal moisture, but it naturally fluctuates throughout life. Other health issues, like depression and certain immune conditions, can also affect estrogen production and vaginal moisture.
Along with menopause, some of the most common causes of vaginal dryness include:
Childbirth and breastfeeding
Your body produces less estrogen after you have a baby, and even less if you breastfeed. Low estrogen reduces the natural moisture level in your vagina, and it could cause vaginal dryness in the time following childbirth.
Surgery or cancer treatment
Oophorectomy is surgery to remove your ovaries, and side effects of the procedure can include early menopause and vaginal dryness. Other medical treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy for cancer, could also affect your ovaries and make you more likely to experience vaginal dryness.
Vaginal dryness might be a side effect of a medication that you’re taking. Some hormonal birth control, antidepressants, or allergy and cold medications might cause vaginal dryness. If you’re in cancer treatment, some types of cancer medication can also cause it.
Smoking or using tobacco products could cause vaginal dryness. Smokers may be more likely to start menopause earlier than nonsmokers, triggering hormonal changes that might cause vaginal dryness.
What to do about vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness is a common problem, but many women never seek treatment. While it might be embarrassing to talk about, it’s a treatable medical condition that you shouldn’t have to live with.
If you’re suffering vaginal dryness and other symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Coppa. He offers compassionate care to diagnose the cause of your vaginal dryness and recommend treatment that fits your needs.
He may prescribe topical estrogen in the form of a cream or ointment. You apply topical estrogen to your vagina to relieve symptoms, and the risk of side effects is fairly low since your body doesn’t actually absorb much estrogen.
Topical estrogen may not be right for every woman, but at-home care like using personal lubricants and avoiding scented vaginal cleansing products can also minimize symptoms. If you are suffering vaginal dryness during menopause, Dr. Coppa may recommend hormone replacement therapy.
Find a solution for your vaginal dryness symptoms. Book an appointment with Dr. Coppa online or by phone today. We have offices in Cranston, Providence, and Smithfield, Rhode Island.