Lack of vaginal moisture may not be a big deal to some, but it can have a large impact on a woman’s sex life by causing pain and discomfort during intercourse. Fortunately, there are several different treatments available to relieve the symptoms of vaginal dryness.
These factors can most affect vaginal moisture levels.
Hormones –Changes in vaginal moisture is most often tied to a decline in estrogen levels. Menopause isn’t the only reason for a drop in estrogen production. Breastfeeding and birth control pills can cause this.
Duration of foreplay –Vaginal moisture is tied to arousal. It’s important to spend enough time with your partner enjoying different sensations outside of intercourse. The vagina responds to a variety of sensual parts of the body that can be caressed, including the lips, tongue, clitoris, toes, neck and breast. Cuddling also counts. It’s important for your partner to understand how much foreplay has a role for women during sex.
Pain during other times – in many cases vaginal dryness does not only cause pain during sex it can make it uncomfortable to sit, stand, exercise, urinate or even work. Vaginal dryness can affect everyday life, whether women are sexually active or not. This can have a detrimental effect on quality of life.
Change in the appearance of the vagina and vulva – it is common for the vagina to look different; the lips will be much thinner.
Changes to the vaginal discharge – many women also find that their vaginal discharge changes, becoming more watery, discoloured and slightly smelly and they may experience irritation and a burning feeling. These symptoms can be worrying but they are simply due to the hormonal changes and not an indication of something more serious.
Emotional impact – vaginal dryness can make women feel different. Changes to the body can be difficult to accept and pain and discomfort caused by the condition can lead to a loss in self- confidence and sexual confidence.
For many women these symptoms can lead to confusion as they are similar to symptoms of some sexually transmitted diseases or thrush. Some women who wrongly assume this to be an attack of thrush buy over-the-counter remedies, which can make the problem much worse. As this is an embarrassing problem many women keep it to themselves and this can put a large strain on their relationship with their partner, especially if women feel unable to tell their partner why they are not interested in sexual activity.
When to Use Lubricant
A person might choose to use lubricant when:
• they experience vaginal dryness due to medication
• changes in hormone levels during pregnancy or after childbirth cause temporary vaginal dryness
• menopause causes vaginal dryness
• their vagina does not produce sufficient lubrication — for example, if they “run out” of lubrication after a long session of sexual activity or find that their natural lubricant is insufficient to reduce the friction of sex
• they experience pain or itching in their vagina, which can happen when sensitive vaginal tissue is very dry
If the condition is accompanied by severe vaginal bleeding, seek immediate medical attention.