What is Vaginal Dryness?

Vaginal dryness is a common problem experienced by up to one in three women, particularly those who are going through menopause or those who experience early menopause symptoms. 


For more information, read the guide: 

Vaginal Dryness Guide

What is Vaginal Dryness?

Vaginal dryness is a common problem experienced by up to one in three women, particularly those who are going through menopause or those who experience early menopause symptoms. The female sex hormone oestrogen is responsible for maintaining your natural lubricant. When your oestrogen levels decrease you are more likely to experience vaginal dryness.

Normally, glands in your cervix produce a natural lubricant that keeps your vagina moist. This natural lubricant travels down your vagina, which helps to maintain a clean and healthy environment. A small amount of white discharge is a healthy sign – your vagina is naturally well lubricated and keeps itself clean.

Menopause

Menopause is the name for the time when women stop ovulating. Therefore, menopause stops women from having periods and their ability to get pregnant. The average age for menopause in Ireland is 50, but some women may experience it earlier or later.

Menopause happens because your oestrogen levels naturally decrease. Oestrogen normally controls your periods, so that’s why your periods end when you reach menopause. With less oestrogen in your body, your vaginal walls become thinner and you naturally produce less lubricant in your cervix. Therefore it’s completely natural for your body to change and for you to experience vaginal dryness.

If you’re not experiencing symptoms of menopause, vaginal dryness may occur because:

- During foreplay or sex you’re not sexually aroused

- You’re using perfumed products in or around your vagina, including regular soaps or body washes

- You’re taking anti-depressants or other medication

- You’re taking the contraceptive pill

- You’re breastfeeding and have low levels of oestrogen

- You’ve had a hysterectomy

- You’ve had chemotherapy

If you plan to visit your doctor to discuss vaginal dryness, think about the affecting factors above and whether they are relevant to you in order for your doctor to best be able to help treat your vaginal dryness.

Treatment for Vaginal Dryness

Treatments for vaginal dryness depend on your situation so it’s beneficial to visit your doctor or pharmacist to discuss options if vaginal dryness is interfering with your lifestyle, relationships or sex life. Alternatively, you can buy specially formulated products over the counter (see below) to relieve the discomfort of your vaginal dryness so you can feel comfortable in your everyday life. Using them regularly can help moisturise and lubricate your vagina, even during sex.

Vaginal Dryness Prevention

If you suffer from frequent vaginal dryness there are some preventative measures you can take. Follow the tips below to help you feel comfortable in your daily life and also when you’re having sex.

Top tips for avoiding vaginal dryness: 

- Avoid using deodorants and perfumed products in and around your intimate area

- During sex, enjoy more foreplay so your body has longer to produce its own natural lubricant

- Use lubricant during sex

- Ask your doctor about oestrogen treatments

- Ask your doctor about hormone replacement therapy (HRT)