According to a survey of over 800 women and reported in the August 2015 issue of the Journal of Women’s Health, vaginal dryness is one of the top two sexual health concerns of women over 60, and 50% of women of all ages deal with this issue.
Despite these facts, many women find it extremely difficult to talk about their sexual health, even with other women. Not only is this isolating, it is harmful to women’s health.
Many women are embarrassed by vaginal dryness, seeing it as sexual dysfunction and feeling inadequate, ashamed, or unsexy— this is wrong. In reality, vaginal dryness is just a part of life that most women deal with at some point and, most importantly, ...it can be remedied.
What Is Vaginal Dryness?
Quite simply, it is the inability of the mucous membranes of the vagina to adequately produce the lubrication necessary for safe pleasurable sex, or even just for everyday comfort.
Unfortunately, since many women are too afraid to discuss it, they endure dry sex for the sake of their partner, and then deal with the resulting vaginal irritation. Or they use messy topical lubricants, gels, and wipes that only provide temporary relief. These don’t do anything for the cause, they only treat the symptoms.
What Are Vaginal Dryness Symptoms?
The obvious sign is being unable to become naturally lubricated through arousal, resulting in discomfort during sex, but there are other symptoms that can aid a diagnosis, such as:
- Vaginal discomfort, burning, itching and irritation
- An urge to urinate more often
- A “shrinking” of the vagina
- A change in the surface of the vagina (becomes pale and thin)
- Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
What Are The Causes of Vaginal Dryness?
Your environmental conditions:
These conditions can include medications, medicines, or antihistamines you might be taking for a cold, certain antidepressants, smoking and incorrect tampon use. The body can also fight itself because of anxiety, stress, and dehydration. Other environmental factors may be a factor including increased use of antibiotics in food production, plastics that leach estrogen-mimicking chemicals, and the consumption of estrogen-rich foods.
Physically impactful events:
Life events that are impactful on our bodies, like childbirth, breastfeeding, having ovaries removed through a hysterectomy, taking certain medications for uterine fibroids and endometriosis, and radiation/chemotherapy treatments for cancer will certainly slow the body’s natural ability to keep it’s mucus membranes properly lubricated. Those who have had their ovaries removed often struggle with this condition, and those suffering from Sjögren’s Syndrome must also deal with vaginal dryness as a result.
Your estrogen levels:
As we age, our bodies estrogen levels drop significantly usually as a result of Menopause or Perimenopause. When our estrogen levels drop, it decreases our body’s ability to produce and intake vital nutrients and fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-7 which cause our epithelial membranes to secret natural lubrication.
What Are The Hazards of Vaginal Dryness?
Sadly, too many people think “So what? I just won’t have sex or I’ll endure it while I do.” This is potentially dangerous thinking. Dry sex isn’t just uncomfortable, it can result in significant irritation of the vagina, which can then in turn lead to other diseases and infection.
As stated earlier, one of the symptoms of dryness is frequent UTIs. These can be extremely painful and lead to further, more serious conditions. Recurrent UTIs can result in:
- Kidney infections
- Kidney disease, or permanent kidney damage
- Sepsis, a life-threatening complication due to infection: septicemia, a condition in which bacteria enters the bloodstream
- Increased risk of premature delivery or having babies with low birth weight
Sadly, too many people think “So what? I just won’t have sex or I’ll endure it while I do.” This is potentially dangerous thinking
Dry sex isn’t just uncomfortable, it can result in significant irritation of the vagina, which can then in turn lead to other diseases and infection.
Other hazards are not so visible or treatable. The emotional side to not being able to spontaneously have sex with your loved one can be damaging for both partners. The woman may feel like she has let her partner down and that there is something very wrong with her, thus shattering her self-confidence and personal image, adding to the stress that is already present. The other partner may feel that they are doing something wrong or are not attractive enough to arouse their partner, once again resulting in diminished self-worth. The problem can then spiral downward to a point where the lovers do not have physical contact at all, thus denying their relationship of one of the most fundamental and vital needs.
Is There a Cure for Vaginal Dryness?
A "cure" depends on the cause. If it is due to an external factor like antihistamines or smoking, then eliminating those from your daily life can perhaps make the problem reverse itself. When a mother is done breastfeeding her child, her estrogen levels may return to normal, thereby alleviating the problem. For those who suffer from vaginal dryness due to a permanent drop in estrogen levels, a more proactive approach is needed to make the symptoms go away.
What Can Be Done for Vaginal Dryness?
There are a number of ways, both chemical and natural, that can help alleviate the symptoms of vaginal dryness. Some of these methods can even solve the issue from the inside out helping you to feel younger and healthier, and totally eliminate the symptoms of vaginal dryness.
There are various medical treatments and procedures that may help abate the symptoms of vaginal dryness. Most of these involve altering your body’s chemical composition with hormones like estrogen:
- Estrogen therapy
- Estrogen patches such as Estradiol
- Estring®, which provides a steady stream of estrogen and is replaced every 3 months
- Estrogen tablets inserted directly into the vagina, such as Vagifem®
- Topical estrogen creams
Unfortunately, hormone replacement therapy is potentially dangerous, and comes hand-in-hand with a number of serious health side effects. These treatments are usually reserved for the most severe cases and should only be used as a last resort.
- Uterine cancer
- Blood clots
- Heart attacks
- Breast cancer
The safest and least intrusive way to restore vaginal moisture is by boosting the level of omega-7 fatty acids in your body.
Hormonal changes can deplete your omega-7 levels and cause your mucous membranes to dry out. The richest, most concentrated source of omega-7 is the sea buckthorn berry or seaberry found in the Himalayas.
The best way to get omega-7 into your body is to take a supplement, such as Femininity by Sibu which is specifically formulated to treat vaginal dryness.
Unlike hormonal treatments, a greater intake of Omega 7s has no negative side effects. On the contrary, the omega-7s found in sea buckthorn berries have been found to help with moisture retention throughout your body, resulting in visibly healthier skin, hair, and nails.
A couple other natural remedies for vaginal dryness involve changes to your diet and personal grooming. Eating more estrogen-rich foods like flax & sesame seeds, soy products, strawberries, pistachios, dates, and garlic can have a positive effect on vaginal moisture.
Refraining from pubic hair removal can help too. Mother Nature put pubic hair there for a reason: it helps keep the skin moist and act as a natural buffer protecting against irritation and dryness.
|PROS of Natural Remedies||CONS of Medication|
|No Known Side Effects||Many Side Effects|
You don’t need to suffer
You don’t need to suffer needlessly from the symptoms of vaginal dryness — and you definitely don’t need to do it alone. So many women are affected, that you’d think we would have a more open and honest dialogue about it.
First focus on getting the omega-7 fatty acids that your body needs to produce vaginal moisture. If natural remedies are not as effective for your body, you can always talk with your doctor about hormonal methods.