Vaginal dryness: causes, symptoms and treatment
The female vagina is an intimate organ that needs special care. As with health in general, we do not think about the peculiarities of its functioning until we experience a certain discomfort, and then there is a need to take actions to normalize our condition.
Discomfort in the vagina caused by the dryness ( Vaginal dryness ) of its membranes may remain out of attention, but over time the problem worsens and therefore needs to be resolved as early as possible.
What is vaginal dryness?
Vaginal dryness- The condition of the mucous membrane of the vagina, in which it loses its elasticity, smoothness, and ability to normal secretion of natural mucus. The walls of the female vagina are formed by three layers, the upper of which is the mucous membrane. It consists of stratified squamous epithelium, forming a large number of folds transversely located in the vagina, due to which it is capable of resizing, for example, during agitation or childbirth. In addition, the walls of the vagina in their structure contain glands that produce transparent or slightly light mucus. It is characterized by a weak, non-irritating odor, characterized by a weakly acid reaction (pH 4.0-4.5), due to the concentration of lactic acid. The vagina is characterized by a certain microflora – the content of beneficial microorganisms. The normal functioning of this body is a process determined by many factors. The vaginal health and comfort of the intimate zone are determined by the age characteristics of the body, the state of the hormonal background, the absence of inflammatory and infectious diseases, the regularity of sexual life, and personal hygiene, and even the absence of bad habits.
Vaginal dryness, as well as its approximation, is accompanied by dry skin and wrinkles due to the fact that the production of estrogen and progesterone and concentration of hyaluronic acid are reduced in the body.
Gynecologists identify many reasons for the development of vaginal dryness and agree that such a deviation from the norm can be both a consequence and a cause of a more substantial physiological disorder. The concept of “vaginal dryness” includes a combination of such symptoms as:
- complete absence or significant reduction of natural secretions, which provokes discomfort in everyday sensations;
- dryness is accompanied by itching and burning in the region of the labia minora;
- pain and severe discomfort occurs during intercourse due to insufficient lubricant production;
- the surface of the vagina becomes prone to the formation of microcracks and bleeding wounds, which can be caused as an inflammatory-infectious process, and slight bleeding after sex or independently of it;
- frequent and strong urge to urinate, because the tissues of the urethra are located in close proximity to the vagina and are subjected to thinning.
Vaginal dryness symptoms
In the initial stages of the disease is asymptomatic. Over time, patients notice a decrease and complete cessation of vaginal discharge. Subsequently, dryness and itching of the vagina, burning in the region of the labia majora during urination, using soap or hygiene gels. Due to an insufficient amount of lubrication, the patient experiences discomfort and pain during intercourse, at the end of which slight serous discharge can be observed. The attachment of a secondary infection is manifested by increased pain in the vagina and the appearance of scanty whiter with a specific unpleasant odor.
vaginal dryness causes
The risk of dryness in the vagina is maximized in women of mature age and during menopause. Such circumstances are considered preferential for the development of dryness, but not exceptional.
The main risk group consists of women of 40-60 years, as well as those who develop menopause, which coincides in the age range. It is during this period that the production of the female sex hormone estrogen naturally decreases in the female body. Its sufficient concentration in the blood, among other things, maintains normal moisture and acidity in the vagina. In parallel with the decrease in estrogen production, the natural defense mechanism weakens the pH level changes, the alkali content in the vaginal environment increases. It is noteworthy that the violations are caused by a higher pH level, the vaginal tissues become susceptible to the introduction of pathological microflora, the risk of ulceration and cracks on the vaginal walls increases. Typical of the menopause period is vaginal atrophy,
Another age-related change that causes dryness in the vagina is a reduction in the production of hyaluronic acid. This substance is normally produced by the body to maintain tone, nutrition, tissue elasticity, selective diffusion of dissolved nutrients. It is hyaluronic acid molecules that interact with water molecules, retaining them in the skin and mucous membranes, which ensures smoothness, softness, elasticity. With age, the production of hyaluronic acid is reduced, which complements the mechanism of development of vaginal dryness.
A complete list of causes of vaginal dryness can be represented as follows:
- hormonal imbalance able to develop on the background
developing pregnancy or postpartum,
taking wrong hormonal contraceptives
- diseases of the female genital organs
urinary tract infection or vagina
- dermatological disorders
- total lack of sex or irregular sex
- immune disorders
- surgery, mainly on the organs of the genitourinary system
on the cervix,
removal of the ovaries (which determines hormonal changes)
- taking certain medications and medical procedures
- use of cosmetic and hygiene products in the genital area
soap, gels, foams containing hard alkalis, which destroys the natural level of acidity,
perfumes and dyes, chemical and synthetic ingredients for intimate use can cause allergies and irritation of the mucous membranes (including flavored condoms, toilet paper)
- smoking, which affects the blood circulation throughout the body and in the genitals in particular.
Preventing vaginal dryness
Preventing vaginal dryness includes three components:
- maintaining sufficient but not excessive hygiene
- daily reception of a hygienic shower with washing away, but without the use of irritating hygienic preparations (for intimate areas it is necessary to use special products purchased from pharmacies with a minimum content of chemical components);
- the use of sanitary pads in the presence of vaginal discharge, but they must be changed every 4-6 hours, give preference to non-flavored counterparts;
- it is preferable to use sanitary pads, rather than tampons due to their minimal interaction with the genitals;
- it is preferable to use non-flavored hygiene products, toilet paper, contraceptives, lubricants (water-based);
- underwear should be changed regularly, and preference should be given to natural fabrics;
- for washing underwear is recommended to use the most simple detergents (without fragrances and dyes), to give preference to simple laundry soap, and not rinse conditioners, conditioners, etc .;
- maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet
- reduce the consumption of spicy, pickled, salty, spicy, canned foods, easily digestible carbohydrates, alcoholic beverages;
- to focus on enriching the diet with vitamins and minerals, and to this end consume fruits, vegetables, berries, fresh juices,
- cereals, whole grains;
- actively consume products containing phytoestrogens (substances that are similar in their action to female sex hormones) – these are beans, soy, lentils, rice, apples, pomegranates, carrots, cabbage, red grapes, cherries, dates, parsley, nuts, sunflower seeds, olive oil;
- not deny yourself in the consumption of polyunsaturated fats, which are contained in marine fish, seeds, nuts, vegetable oils;
- consume large amounts of fluid – up to 2 liters of plain drinking water per day;
- full sexual activity, which contributes to the normalization of hormonal levels.
Vaginal dryness and sex
Vaginal dryness- the satellite of many states abnormal for an organism, however, it is felt most acutely in the process of sexual relations. A feature of the female body is the ability to produce an increased amount of mucus in the process of sexual arousal. The so-called lubricant is necessary for the most comfortable and easy penetration. Lack of lubrication in the process of sexual intercourse or its delayed production is observed in both women of mature age and girls and young mothers. Partly, the deviation is caused by endocrine changes, but also the features of sexual intercourse are also important. The discomfort and pain during sex, and after it, the occurrence of cracks and bleeding from the vagina are often due to insufficient prelude, which is why the woman is not sufficiently relaxed and agitated, and sex itself does not bring pleasure, and often the opposite. The painful reflex can be fixed, and during subsequent sexual acts, the vaginal muscles will contract involuntarily. As a result, the man reluctantly engages in sexual intercourse, fearing to hurt her, which affects his erection. The solution to the problem begins with a quality prelude. Sexologists argue that the average duration of foreplay should not be shorter than 20 minutes, but the presence of the problem itself leads to a more thorough analysis of the quality of sexual life.
First of all, it should be noted that it is a regular and full sex life – the guarantee of health of the female reproductive system in general and the vagina in particular. Sexually active women maintain intimate health for much longer than women who neglect this side of life. Harmonious sex life not only increases the quality of life of the woman, improving her health and increasing vitality but also provides the most balanced concentration of hormones in the blood, which is the prevention of vaginal dryness. That is, having sex improves the condition of the mucous and is the basis for eliminating its dryness. However, haste and painful sex using condoms that are likely to irritate the mucous membrane will not be salvation. What should it be? Only sex with regular arousal increases estrogen levels and contributes to the appearance of lubrication, keeps the vagina elastic, decreases the likelihood of pain. It is necessary to take note of several nuances:
- discuss contraception with your gynecologist – experts agree that male sperm contains some substances that have a beneficial effect on the female body, and sex without contraception is very natural, natural, acceptable, but for a couple who are aware of their lack of intimate diseases ready for the birth of children; in any other case, contraception is appropriate.
- condom use should not be avoided, if only because it is a contraceptive that best protects lovers from the spread of intimate infections; however, the latex basis of the condom often provokes an allergic reaction in women; It is necessary to choose condoms without fragrances, flavors, dyes, relief, you can combine them with water-based lubricants;
- the use of hormonal contraceptives many women avoid because of prejudice, but they are justified if the contraceptive is chosen at random; hormonal drugs can not only protect a woman from an unwanted pregnancy but also correct her hormonal background if their appointment was preceded by a high-quality medical examination;
- if the use of chemical spermicides once caused discomfort, do not repeat this experience, because the vaginal mucosa may be hypersensitive to their action;
- The foreplay should be long and varied – the rule is that penetration should not occur until the female vagina is sufficiently moistened; to achieve the goal, kissing and oral sex, touching the breast and intimate areas, clitoral stimulation and various sex games can be involved; this provides a rush of blood to the walls of the vagina and the labia, mucus is secreted, the interstitial fluid begins to seep through the walls of the vagina and the transudate of blood from the surrounding vessels begins to sweat;
- it is necessary to prepare for the upcoming sex – it is not only a moral attitude but also very accessible ways of relaxing and providing a rush of blood to the vagina, a warm bathroom can be an example, you should not neglect to treat masturbation as a way to “warm up” and strengthen muscles in the vaginal area.
vaginal dryness treatment
Vaginal dryness is usually a condition not so much detectable during a pelvic examination as the initial complaint of the patient herself. If a woman does not experience any discomfort, then she is unlikely to be diagnosed with dryness. In the course of diagnostic procedures, the doctor studies the history clarifies whether there are many factors that can lead to dryness and, if possible, recommends eliminating their effects, normalizing sexual relations. Often this is enough, but not always.
Gynecological examination and laboratory diagnostics are necessary to exclude more serious diseases, as well as to identify the causes of discomfort. These include tests for the presence of infectious agents, a Pap smear for testing cells from the vaginal wall or cervix, and a study of the hormonal status.
For menopausal women, the doctor is more likely to prescribe a thoroughly medical treatment, often with the use of hormonal drugs. The latter is relevant for the restoration of hormonal background, which is appropriate in the postpartum period and in general for women who are faced with this problem. If dryness is caused by the use of cosmetics or taking any medication, the rejection of them often entails the restoration of the health of the mucous membranes, as well as high-quality sex.
vaginal dryness drug treatment
The main category of drugs aimed at eliminating vaginal dryness can be drugs for the treatment of gynecological diseases. Eliminating the cause of the deviation, these medicines decide and the consequence, that is, relieve dryness. To normalize the condition of the vaginal mucosa, provoked by more serious diseases, medicines are prescribed by the attending physician after a thorough diagnosis. It can be hormonal drugs, and anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial and supporting the state of the mucus. Details are determined by specific diagnosis.
If vaginal dryness does not basically contain hormonal abnormalities, inflammatory and infectious diseases, pathologies of the urogenital system, immune and dermatological disorders, then a drug is prescribed from the category of those that act solely on restoring water balance, elasticity, and elasticity of the vaginal muscles. Examples of such are:
- Klimadinon – the active base is the extract of rhizomes, which binds to estrogen receptors and has a significant estrogen-like effect, affects the hypothalamus, pituitary, reduces the production of luteinizing hormone, eliminates psycho-emotional and vegetative-vascular problems;
- Cycatridine – basically contains hyaluronic acid, the targeted delivery of which to the vagina helps to normalize its mucous membrane; Calendula, Aloe Vera, Centella Asiatica extracts have an antimicrobial and antifungal, antiseptic effect, stimulates the formation of collagen and has a wound-healing effect, which ensures elasticity, moisture, and integrity of the mucous
vaginal dryness hormonal therapy
Hormone therapy is a popular method of treating vaginal dryness since the problem is often triggered by hormonal imbalance, or rather the lack of estrogen in the blood. Accordingly, when confirming this cause in a particular case, one of the types of artificial delivery of estrogen into the body is appointed, or rather, local estrogen therapy:
- estrogen vaginal rings – a soft, flexible ring is inserted into the vagina by a doctor or directly by a woman; during the process, a constant flow of estrogen is produced directly to the vaginal tissues; regular (once every 3 months) ring replacement is required;
- vaginal estrogen tablets – tablets are applied topically, placed in the vagina initially once a day for the first two weeks, and then 2 times a week;
- Estrogen vaginal cream is also used for local use, for which a special applicator is used, and the cream spreads along the inner walls of the vagina, subsequently providing a therapeutic effect.
Hormone therapy, however, like other methods, should not be used by a woman at its discretion, but only as prescribed by the attending physician and in accordance with the prescribed course. The risk of side effects is not excluded, and therefore control of treatment by a specialist should not be ignored.