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 estrogen is responsible for maintaining your natural lubricant. When your estrogen 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 keeping itself clean.

Symptoms can include:

  • Burning, soreness or pain inside the vagina or the lower vagina
  • Itching, burning or soreness around the entrance to your vagina (vulva)
  • Pain during sex, sometimes accompanied by light bleeding
  • Recurring urinary tract infections
  • Frequent need or urge to urinate

When to visit your doctor

If vaginal dryness is interfering with your lifestyle, relationships or sex life, talk to your doctor about your symptoms to get the right treatment – vaginal dryness doesn’t have to hinder your daily life at any age

Menopause

Menopause is the name for the time when women stop ovulating, and therefore stop having periods or the ability to get pregnant. The average age for menopause is 51, but some women may experience it earlier or later.

Menopause happens because your estrogen levels naturally decrease. Estrogen normally controls your periods, so that’s why your periods end when you reach menopause. With less estrogen 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 estrogen
  • 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.