Written by Emily Deaton & Medically reviewed by Dr. Susan Milstein
Published here with permission from Women’s Health Interactive. Fearless Conversations About Sex & Sexuality
If you’re one of the many women who deal with vaginal dryness, you probably know that vaginal discomfort can have a major impact on your daily life.
Despite how common vaginal dryness is, remarkably few women talk about the issue. The lack of conversations that people have about the topic, however, only furthers the stigma that surrounds it.
That’s why we’re going to dispel myths and share the truth about vaginal dryness — and give you some tips on how to ease the discomfort that comes with it.
In this article, we’ll talk about:
- The Causes Of Vaginal Dryness
- How Common Vaginal Dryness Really Is
- How A Lack Of Vaginal Lubrication Can Affect Your Life
- Ways To Lessen The Uncomfortable Feeling Of Vaginal Dryness
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
Unlike some things in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “What causes vaginal dryness?”
However, the origins aren’t random — in fact, they’re pretty easily explained.
There are a variety of reasons why a woman may experience vaginal dryness, including:
- Menopause or perimenopause
- Medication changes
- Lifestyle factors
Menopause is one of the most common causes of vaginal dryness.
This is a completely natural process women’s bodies undergo when their menstrual cycle stops; typically, you’re considered to be menopausal after you’ve gone a year or so without a period.
Generally, menopause starts in a woman’s 40s or 50s — but it can be triggered earlier due to genetics, certain medications, health conditions, or surgical procedures such as hysterectomy.
Menopause looks different for everyone, but there are a number of common symptoms associated with this process — including vaginal dryness.
The primary reason women experience symptoms during menopause has to do with decreased levels of the hormone estrogen. Since hormones play such a major role in your day-to-day life, any change in their balance will likely cause changes in your body, too.
You might be thinking, “Wait, I haven’t hit menopause and I’m having vaginal dryness — what’s the deal?!”
While menopause is a common cause of dryness or general irritation in your vaginal area, it’s not the only cause.
Some people also experience a decrease in natural vaginal lubrication when they enter perimenopause, which is the period of time before your menstrual cycle completely stops. The associated symptoms may or may not follow you throughout menopause.
Of course, there are other potential causes of vaginal dryness, too.
Lifestyle changes, medications, your environment, products you use, and more can all contribute to vaginal dryness.
Regardless of the root of the problem, vaginal dryness is a frustrating symptom to deal with and you are far from alone if you’re dealing with it yourself.
How Common Is Vaginal Dryness?
Based on how few people you hear talk about vaginal dryness, you might think that it’s a pretty uncommon thing to deal with.
However, even if you don’t hear anyone you know talking about it, I guarantee that you know people who have experienced vaginal dryness.
A 2018 study estimated that over 30% of women who aren’t in menopause deal with vaginal dryness — that’s almost one out of every three women!
Women who are menopausal are more likely to experience dryness and discomfort, with at least 50% of menopausal women saying they dealt with vaginal dryness, according to the same 2018 study.
Beyond that study, another found that between 62 and 67% of women experienced vaginal dryness within a year after starting menopause; 85% of them had dealt with it years later.
What does this mean?
Well, it means that you’re not alone. With so many women worldwide living with the effects of vaginal dryness daily, surely there are some solutions — right?
What Are The Effects Of Vaginal Dryness?
Everyone has their unique experience with vaginal dryness, but a lack of natural vaginal lubrication can affect your day in some pretty unexpected ways.
If you still have your period, for instance, you might feel like a teenager using a tampon for the first time, facing the same annoyance and frustration that came with trying to insert it into a vagina that didn’t have enough lubrication.
Additionally, you might find that wearing underwear or pants may intensify itchiness and irritation of your vulva’s skin, even if their material never bothered you previously.
One of the biggest — and potentially most impactful — ways vaginal dryness can negatively affect your life, however, has to do with sex and masturbation.
Sensations that used to make your toes curl with pleasure may suddenly feel drastically different — and not in a good way.
Instead of enjoying sex or masturbation, a lack of vaginal lubrication can make these activities miserable.
Additionally, when a woman is unable to make her own natural vaginal lubrication, she may feel as though she is somehow “less” of a woman because of it.
Not only is it a difficult topic to broach with a doctor, but it can be hard to discuss with a partner. For this reason, many women may suffer from vaginal dryness in silence.
What Can I Do To Lessen My Vaginal Dryness?
Though you can’t turn back the clock to stop vaginal dryness from occurring, there are several ways to mitigate the issue.
While medications and hormone replacement therapy can help your vagina to secrete natural lubrication, these treatments can take time to work and may also have some unpleasant side effects.
One method that offers instant relief is using a vaginal moisturizer and lubricant.
If you want a vaginal moisturizer that works as a lubricant, too, you’ll probably want to use a water-based lube.
Water-based lubes are hydrating, compatible with latex condoms and dental dams, and don’t stain fabrics like silicone or oil-based lubes.
Of course, not all water-based lubes or vaginal moisturizers are made the same!
Since you’re using a vaginal moisturizer and lubricant on an already sensitive area, it’s ideal to use a product made primarily from natural and organic ingredients to avoid making your sensitive skin feel even more parched or raw.
Made of 95% organic aloe vera, a hydrating, soothing ingredient that eases symptoms of intense dryness, Aloe Cadabra® vaginal moisturizer doubles as a lubricant — making it perfect for daily use during sex, masturbation, and, of course, for alleviating vaginal dryness.
This multi-tasking product helps to keep your vagina feeling hydrated and happy and makes sex and masturbation a slick, slippery joy.
Even if you feel like you’re stuck having to deal with vaginal dryness alone, you don’t have to struggle by yourself!
There are a multitude of resources and ways to help ease aggravating feelings of dryness, itchiness, and discomfort.
Using a vaginal moisturizer and lubricant is a great way to obtain the relief you deserve.