Vaginal dryness can occur at any age, during any stage of your life, but it’s most common in older women during menopause. This unpleasant condition can interfere with your sex life and your self-confidence.
For more than 25 years, at his practice’s locations in Cranston and Smithfield, Rhode Island, Dr. A. Michael Coppa, an obstetrician, and gynecologist, has been helping women find the most successful treatments for the underlying causes of vaginal dryness. Dr. Coppa explains the potential causes of vaginal dryness and the available treatment options.
Is it pregnancy, menopause, or something else?
As a woman, so many changes take place within your body at nearly every stage of your life, beginning with puberty. Hormones fluctuate throughout pregnancy, menopause, and even as a result of your diet and lifestyle.
As you get older and enter into perimenopause — the time leading up to menopause — and then menopause, when you no longer have a period, your body gradually produces less estrogen. To make matters worse, as you get older, vaginal tissue thins out and loses elasticity, so when you add these physical changes to vaginal dryness, you could end up shying away from sexual intercourse. These circumstances can affect your personal relationships and emotional well-being.
Aside from the natural aging process, you might experience a more sudden drop in estrogen levels in circumstances such as:
- During childbirth
- While breastfeeding
- During and after cancer treatments
- While taking certain medications
- As a result of smoking
- When you have an immune disorder
- After surgery that involves removing your ovaries
Stress, anxiety, and depression can also contribute to lower estrogen levels, which often leads to vaginal dryness and discomfort. If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness in connection with one of these situations, fluctuating or low hormones are a likely factor.
Irritating products disrupt the natural balance
Irritating products like soaps, lotions, and creams that disrupt the natural balance of your vagina can cause dryness and other symptoms like itching, soreness, and burning. Condoms containing the chemical, nonoxynol-9 often cause vaginal dryness and associated symptoms, as well.
Vaginal dryness makes sex uncomfortable, or even painful, and you may even experience light bleeding after intercourse.
Treatment options offer hope
Fortunately, once you get to the underlying cause of your vaginal dryness symptoms, several treatment options can resolve the problem and help you feel like yourself again.
After performing an exam and talking to you about your medical history, if the underlying cause is due to a temporary condition like breastfeeding or pregnancy, Dr. Coppa may recommend over-the-counter, water-based vaginal lubricants to reduce dryness and provide relief from discomfort, especially during sex.
If hormones are a contributing factor as you enter into menopause and beyond, Dr. Coppa may prescribe estrogen therapies in the form of vaginal creams or rings. These products release estrogen directly into vaginal tissue so you get relief from dryness and other irritation.
If you also have menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes or low libido along with vaginal dryness, Dr. Coppa may suggest estrogen pills to help provide more overall hormonal balance.
In addition to estrogen therapy, Dr. Coppa often recommends making lifestyle changes. A healthy diet, exercise, and finding ways to reduce stress can go a long way in keeping your hormones and your body in balance.
Finally, quitting smoking will help prevent vaginal dryness and a host of other health issues that could occur after years of smoking cigarettes.
You don’t have to suffer in silence or feel embarrassed by vaginal dryness and insufficient lubrication during intimacy. Seeking help from a professional OB/GYN for vaginal dryness can help restore your health and your emotional wellness, and take pressure off of a strained relationship.
Learn about treatment options in our compassionate environment, where Dr. Coppa sees each patient himself, so you get the individualized attention you deserve.
Call our Cranston or Smithfield offices today, or request an appointment online.