You're not alone.
Women of any age can suffer from vaginal dryness, but it's more common in women who are post-menopausal. Menopause, especially, is one of the reasons women are embarrassed to talk about it. Women think dryness in their vagina makes them sound old, not attractive anymore, and past their prime.
For a woman who loses lubrication, it's much like a man with erectile dysfunction — it's not something you want to share with your doctor, friend, or partner. Vaginal dryness can make sex very painful and even your relationship may suffer.
In a British survey of 2,000 adults, one-fifth of women were depressed because of vaginal dryness, a quarter said they felt less feminine, almost half felt "old." One in ten men also said it had impacted their sex life.
The other findings were shocking, too. 34 percent of sufferers said it had driven a wedge between them and their partner; nearly one-fifth don't have sex at all because of it. 42 percent experience pain during intercourse, one-third have constant itching, and 31 percent feel sore after sex.
There are a number of reasons for vaginal dryness:
1. Changes in your hormones. If your estrogen levels decrease because of childbirth, breastfeeding, perimenopause, and menopause, you can experience vaginal dryness.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation to the pelvis can also lead to low estrogen levels and less vaginal lubrication. Irwin Goldstein MD, director of Sexual Medicine San Diego, says, "The vagina depends on estrogen for health."
2. Medications. Allergy, asthma, and cold medicines have a drying effect on the body, and that includes vaginal lubrication.
3. You aren't aroused enough. Your body may be craving more foreplay to get you ready, or your partner may have some sexual problems himself. Neither one of you wants to discuss it, and that's a problem.
5. Allergies. You might be allergic to chemicals in certain soaps, hygiene products, dyes, and perfumes. Dr. Goldstein says, "Many women have allergies to detergents and soaps. There can also be irritants on things like underwear and towels."
But don't fret, ladies. There are solutions to curbing vaginal dryness so you can enjoy a healthy sex life, and feel fresh down there. The solution for most cases of vaginal dryness is amazingly simple and you can get most of them at the drugstore without shame:
- A moisturizing cream that replenishes dehydrated vaginal skin
- A good quality personal lubricant
- Vitamin D oil, which has been proven to help with dryness
- Olive or coconut oil put on the outside of the vaginal entrance (not to be confused with the velvet ropes) or just inside improve lubrication, too.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be obtained in all different forms, including creams, gels, pills, injections, lubricants, and vaginal rings.
There should be no shame in vaginal dryness. Many women suffer from it, and it's no reflection on you as a woman.