Sometimes you may feel itching or pain in your private area. Even your sex life can be affected due to pain or discomfort there. You might even feel a burning sensation when urinating. These are all signs of vaginal dryness, which can affect any woman, regardless of her age. Young or not, you can prevent vaginal dryness to a large extent if you keep your intimate area moisturized.
Vaginal dryness is a condition in which the vaginal tissues do not produce enough moisture and causes dryness, which can lead to pain, itching and discomfort during sex, says Dr. Shobha Gupta, medical director, gynecologist and IVF Specialist, Mother’s Lap IVF Centre, New Delhi and Vrindavan.
Causes of vaginal dryness
There are several causes of vaginal dryness, and each has a unique effect on the body’s natural lubrication. Here are some causes of vaginal dryness:
Dropping estrogen levels during menopause is one of the main causes, the expert tells Health Shots. The flexibility and thickness of vaginal tissues are preserved by estrogen. The vaginal lining may thin and produce less moisture when levels drop.
Breastfeeding itself has many challenges. You need to know the correct breastfeeding position and whether you are producing enough milk. They also have to deal with vaginal dryness, as low estrogen levels are common in breastfeeding mothers. And this can cause vaginal dryness.
As a side effect, various medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines, and some allergy medications, can reduce vaginal lubrication.
4. Stress and anxiety
Stress is generally bad for your health. If you are stressed or experiencing emotional anxiety, this can affect vaginal moisture by interfering with the body’s normal hormonal balance.
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5. Cancer therapy
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy can damage vaginal tissue, which can cause discomfort and dryness.
6. Harsh soaps and douching
Harsh soaps and douching, as well as other hygiene products, can disrupt the vagina’s natural pH balance and lead to dryness, says Dr. Gupta.
Ways to Moisturize the Private Area to Prevent Vaginal Dryness
To prevent dry skin, creams or lotions are applied. But doing this there can cause infection. Here’s what to do:
1. Use water-based lubricants
During sex, water-based lubricants can moisturize and reduce friction. Condoms and sex toys can be used with them without risk. Since they won’t damage latex condoms like oil-based lubricants do, they’re a great option for avoiding irritation and dryness during sex.
2. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water keeps your body hydrated overall, including the tissues in your vagina. Maintaining adequate hydration boosts moisture in the vaginal area and promotes the body’s natural lubrication mechanism. To stay well hydrated, try to consume at least eight glasses of water every day.
3. Use mild, fragrance-free soaps
Strong soaps and perfumes can disrupt the natural pH balance of the vagina, causing dryness and discomfort. Select mild, fragrance-free soaps specifically designed for delicate skin or personal hygiene. These soaps are less likely to irritate the skin and are gentler.
4. Manage stress
Prolonged stress can affect hormone levels and disrupt the body’s natural fluid balance, which can cause vaginal dryness. Engage in stress-relieving activities to improve relaxation and overall well-being, such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or hobbies.
Vaginal Moisturizers for Vaginal Dryness
When used as prescribed, vaginal moisturizers and gels can be a safe and useful tool for treating vaginal dryness, says Dr. Gupta. Here’s what to look for when purchasing vaginal gels and moisturizers:
1. Water-based formulas
Water-based products are safer to use with latex condoms and sex toys and are less likely to irritate the skin. Water-based moisturizers are often well tolerated and mimic the body’s natural lubrication.
2. Non-allergenic and fragrance-free
Select items free of dyes, fragrances and other potentially irritating ingredients. Fragrances and dyes can irritate the natural pH balance of the vagina, causing discomfort and irritation.
3. pH balanced
Look for products specifically designed to balance the acidic pH (around 3.5 to 4.5) of the vagina. For the well-being of the vagina, the natural pH balance must be maintained. pH-balanced moisturizers help preserve the natural environment of the vagina.
It is often necessary to manage the underlying cause when treating vaginal dryness. So, talk to a doctor to first identify the precise cause.