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vaginal dryness

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Vaginal dryness. It’s a topic that nobody wants to talk about. In the same way a man’s masculinity might feel threatened when he struggles to get an erection, a woman’s femininity might feel threatened when she struggles to get wet.

Dealing with vaginal dryness can, of course, be uncomfortable and even painful during intercourse. It can also be damaging to relationships. The woman dealing with vaginal dryness might feel insecure that her body fails at making sex enjoyable. Her partner may feel that they fail at arousal. It’s a very sensitive issue, but nobody should feel shame or guilt over vaginal dryness. A woman’s body is constantly evolving and like all of our systems – including our bones, our skin and other organs – vaginas don’t function as they should. Some causes of vaginal dryness have to do with the simple process of aging. Some do not. Luckily, there are things you can do to address it either way.

Here are several causes and cures for vaginal dryness.

vaginal dryness

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Allergy and asthma medications

Antihistamines do a pretty good job of stopping things up. They block the effects of histamines in your body, which kick in when they detect something harmful, like an allergen. It’s great when your nose and eyes are not runny, but for your vagina—not so much. Histamines have a drying effect throughout the entire body, and the Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration Journal reports that they can cause vaginal dryness, Antihistamines can also be found in certain asthma treatments. If you are taking either of these types of medications, you can expect to experience vaginal dryness.

vaginal dryness

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Nursing or childbirth

When it comes to vaginal lubrication, estrogen is the magic word. And a woman’s estrogen levels can fluctuate many times in her life, including during her childbearing years. When a woman is pregnant, her estrogen levels soar. In fact, a woman will make more estrogen during pregnancy alone than any other time in her life. Even the placenta produces estrogen, says Hopkins Medicine, in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy. The thing is, once you give birth, estrogen levels plummet. They can return to pre-pregnancy levels within 24 hours. This major fluctuation of estrogen can cause vaginal dryness. Estrogen levels also drop during breastfeeding because estrogen can interfere with the production of milk. So the months after giving birth, a woman can expect vaginal dryness.

vaginal dryness

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Perimenopause or menopause

While many associate menopause with middle age (or older), the truth is perimenopause can kick in in a woman’s 40s, and sometimes even in her 30s, says Mayo Clinic. Declining estrogen levels are a normal part of perimenopause and menopause. So already during perimenopause, a woman might find that the tissue of her vaginal walls becomes thinner and dryer. This can cause itching and discomfort during sex. The symptom can and often does get worse after menopause. The truth is that, most healthy women really only have a few decades of a naturally well-lubricated vagina before perimenopause ruins that.

vaginal dryness

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Chemotherapy or radiation

As if a woman battling cancer isn’t dealing with enough, she might also find that her vagina dries up. Chemotherapy and radiation can damage the ovaries, explains Cancer Connect. It’s one reason many women choose to freeze their eggs before undergoing chemotherapy – they may struggle to produce healthy eggs afterwards. It also means that the ovaries struggle to produce adequate levels of estrogen and progesterone, leading to symptoms such as vaginal dryness. This drop in estrogen levels can also cause thin and more fragile vaginal tissue.

vaginal dryness

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Fragrances

Not the fragrances in your candles or air freshener – the fragrances in your bath products and beyond. Your body wash or detergent can have fragrances and dyes that irritate the vagina and lead to not only itching and burning but also dryness. When your body is having an allergic reaction to something, its usual operations – like proper lubrication – can take a hit while inflammation occurs and histamines flood your system. Make sure to use unscented, all-natural laundry detergent and soaps. It’s best, in general, not to put soap near your vagina. It is self-cleaning after all. Remember the detergent you use to wash your bed sheets can irritate your vagina as well.

vaginal dryness

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Estrogen therapy

Depending on the severity and the cause of the issue, your doctor might recommend estrogen therapy. There are several kinds of estrogen therapy available. There is the obvious path of taking an estrogen pill. However, some women do not want their estrogen therapy to affect their entire body. Some women cannot take an estrogen pill and need something that will only treat the affected area. For those, there are estrogen suppositories, vaginal rings, and creams. These can be less impactful on the whole body, treating just the vaginal dryness. They can also be preferred to remembering to take a pill. An article republished in the National Library of Medicine found that as many as one third of women who do not use an estrogen treatment post-menopause will suffer vaginal dryness. Estrogen patches are another option. These, however, also impact the entire body. Speak to your doctor about which treatment is best for your situation.

vaginal dryness

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Lubricants

There are so many wonderful lubricants out there. There are four main types: silicone-based, water-based, oil-based, and hybrids. Water-based can be the best for sensitive skin. But if you are sensitive to dyes or fragrances, keep in mind that these can exist in any type of lubricant so check the ingredients. If you are allergic to ingredients in your lubricant, you may find that you still struggle with vaginal dryness. Using lubricant doesn’t mean you’re admitting defeat. Even women who don’t struggle with vaginal dryness enjoy lubricant because it just makes sex more fun. So explore the different lubes out there and stock up on your favorites.

vaginal dryness

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Better arousal

Hey, nobody wants to say it, but if your doctor determines that a physical issue is not the cause of your vaginal dryness, this might be on your partner. In fact, if you have no trouble getting wet when you masturbate, then you know it’s not a physical thing. We can fear harming our partners’ egos by telling them they’re failing to arouse us, but if we’re dry down there, they already know. And that’s the most damaging to their egos. Your partner should be open to communication about what you need in bed to get properly wet. You probably listen to your partner’s needs in bed, and this is a part of your needs.

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