Ask Kate - Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness (also known as atrophic vaginitis) is common in post-menopausal women and also in women who have had both ovaries removed at the time of hysterectomy. Vaginal dryness is most commonly caused by a reduction in the amount of estrogen. Estrogen helps to maintain the hydration and thickness of the vaginal wall. Vaginal dryness occurs when the ovaries produce less estrogen (or when they have been removed). This can also happen after giving birth, particularly if breast-feeding. Although, vaginal dryness can be an issue at any time – see below for some options on how to manage this.

Symptoms

  • Pain during sex
  • Vaginal dryness which causes discomfort
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Burning in the vaginal area
  • Sometimes no symptoms at all

Treatment

Vaginal dryness can be treated with personal lubricants or moisturisers, prescription creams and prescription tablets.

Lubricants/moisturisers can be purchased without a prescription, and are relatively safe to use. They work to reduce friction during sex and can also be used at other times during the week to alleviate discomfort. Vaginal moisturisers work to help water to be retained in the vaginal wall. These are often used regularly to ensure moisture is retained. There are different brands available, suitable even for those with sensitivities. Ask our Remadee team for more information.

Hand creams or lotions are not recommended for vaginal lubrication as these can be irritating.

Estrogen creams or tablets can be prescribed by the doctor to be inserted into the vagina, or a tablet to take orally can be prescribed if appropriate. These treat the underlying problem as opposed to the topical relief of external symptoms. Estrogen cream relieve and treats the vaginal dryness by thickening the vaginal epithelium and increasing vaginal secretions. As well as this, urinary tract symptoms are reduced such as the frequency of urinary tract infections (UTI – discussed in a previous “Ask Kate”) and overactive bladder symptoms.

The decision between whether to use vaginal estrogen therapy or systemic therapy (e.g. tablets) is based upon how well they work for you and the risk of side effects from the estrogen tablets. However, vaginal estrogen therapy appears to be more effective than systemic therapy for treatment of vaginal dryness due to lack of estrogen. This is something you can talk to your doctor about.

The information contained on this site is not intended to be a replacement for medical advice or advice in relation to the health or care of any person. The information is generalised and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional clinical advice. If you have any questions relating to the information you should seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner. The information is derived from a number of sources. Remadee has endeavoured to ensure that all information is from reliable and reputable sources.

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