Vaginal dryness can cause painful intercourse, which can then result in a fear of having sex... and, the vicious cycle commences.
Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, head of Yale University’s OBGYN Department, says that vaginal dryness is an extremely common problem, particularly in women who are in perimenopause or menopause.
Unfortunately, women often don't talk about their issues with vaginal dryness, avoiding that topic altogether while hot flashes and night sweats get all of the attention. The opposite should be true, because while hot flashes and night sweats tend to get better over time, vaginal dryness tends to get worse.
The severity can vary from slight discomfort to extreme pain.
Dr. Minkin says that in terms of vaginal dryness, the phrase "use it or lose it" bears some truth. Sexual activity leads to better blood flow to the pelvis.
If you're suffering from vaginal dryness or painful intercourse, what are your options?
There are prescriptions available, but many women want to try something else before going that route. In that case, there are plenty of OTC moisturizers to help on an ongoing basis, as well as lubricants that can help during intercourse.
If used consistently, the moisturizers help draw fluid into the walls of the vagina.
Dr. Minkin warns that some lubricants can be irritating, so find a brand that works best for you. The combination of both a moisturizer and a lubricant can be very helpful.
Remember, sex isn't the only thing that can cause pain from dryness. Riding a bike or going for a run can also have the same effect. And, you can experience vaginal dryness even if you haven't yet entered perimenopause or menopause.
Finally, Kegel exercises can help bladder strength, and even may help prevent bladder and/or urinary infections.
Tune in as Dr. Minkin shares these and other tips for battling your vaginal dryness and making sure you're healthy and happy "down there."