Vaginal dryness

Menopause can reduce the body’s production of the hormone oestrogen. Oestrogen is important for maintaining the moisture and elasticity (stretch) of the vagina.

When oestrogen levels are lower, vaginal dryness and loss of vaginal elasticity can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable or painful. A dry vagina may also cause discomfort at other times.

What can help manage vagina dryness?

The most effective solution for vaginal dryness is to use a product that will add moisture to the vaginal tissue. There are three types of vaginal moisturiser. All are applied directly into the vagina.

  • Non-hormonal vaginal moisturisers provide relief from the uncomfortable symptoms of vaginal dryness.
  • Vaginal lubricants provide lubrication to enhance the comfort and ease of sexual intercourse.
  • Vaginal oestrogens are creams containing low doses of the hormone oestrogen. They are designed to help retain vaginal elasticity and to replace moisture. They are used about twice a week.  When vaginal oestrogens are used, small amounts of oestrogen may be absorbed into the body. Most experts agree that vaginal oestrogens are safe for women who have had ovarian cancer. Women should discuss this with their cancer specialist.

 

Other ways of managing vaginal dryness

 

  • Avoid substances that can irritate or dry the vaginal region, such as soap, or products containing alcohol or perfume. Products containing petroleum jelly and baby oil can also cause irritation. Use a soap-free product to wash the vaginal area.
  • Wear cotton underwear and avoid nylon underwear, tight underwear, or tight clothing.
  • Women who are sexually active may find it helpful to discuss their concerns with their partner. When a woman’s partner is aware of how she feels, he or she is more likely to help explore alternatives.
  • Simple strategies, such as changing the position for intercourse, can relieve discomfort. Pain during sex can make a woman tense, and that tension can cause more pain. Try exploring alternative ways to be intimate so you and your partner can maintain a pleasurable and satisfying sexual relationship.

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