Dry skin. Please no.
We think we can all agree that when it comes to the vaginal region, we’re aiming for vitality. You may have heard that vaginal dryness is an age issue, but here’s the truth, it’s not a respecter of age. Before you cry into a pillow, we’ve got good news—dryness is not something you have to be stuck with. You can bring your vaginal tissues back to a vibrant, flexible, and delightful state.
What Is Vaginal Dryness?
A healthy vaginal environment is self-lubricating, elastic, and has a thick lining. However, when natural lubrication isn’t happening as it should, the tissues can become dry, thin, and rigid. This can lead to a series of not-great symptoms such as discomfort when moving, abnormal odor, discharge, vaginal swelling, severe vaginal itching, and pain during sex. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Around 17% of people assigned female at birth (AFAB) ages 18 to 50 report problems with vaginal dryness during sex, even before menopause takes place. Over half experience vaginal dryness after menopause.” None of that sounds encouraging, we know, stay with us. We’ll get to the light at the end of the tunnel.
“You may have heard that vaginal dryness is an age issue, but here’s the truth, it’s not a respecter of age. Before you cry into a pillow, we’ve got good news—dryness is not something you have to be stuck with.”
“Around 17% of people assigned female at birth (AFAB) ages 18 to 50 report problems with vaginal dryness during sex, even before menopause takes place. Over half experience vaginal dryness after menopause.” ~ Cleveland Clinic
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
1. Low Estrogen
This is the most common cause. “The female hormone estrogen helps maintain natural lubrication. When estrogen levels drop, for one reason or another, one effect is the vagina loses its natural fluid, thins, and becomes less elastic.” Estrogen levels can take a dip during stages of menopause, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, chemotherapy, or due to anti-estrogen meds.
2. Vaginal Microbiome Imbalances
The vagina has a microbiome made up of good bacteria and microorganisms that keep it healthy and balanced. This balance can be altered by antibiotics, smoking, drinking alcohol, douching, pelvic inflammatory disease, STIs, and perfumed vaginal products such as soaps, lotions, and lubricants.
It’s important to read the labels and ask your doctor questions. Dryness can be a side effect of allergy medications, antidepressants (SSRIs), asthma meds, and birth control pills. Now, if your med is making you dry as toast, don’t simply stop taking it! Please consult with your healthcare provider first.
Drinking plenty of water and fluids is pivotal to our body’s complete health. It’s also important for keeping your vaginal pH levels balanced. When this is disrupted by a lack of hydration, it can “lead to yeast imbalances, which can pose issues (such as itching) in addition to dryness.” So, drink up that H2O.
Treating Vaginal Dryness
If you are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms due to vaginal dryness, there are remedies to treat it. If you’re a get-it-done-yourself kind of person, you can start with home care solutions, but if your symptoms worsen or persist, it’s probably time to visit your physician.
1. Homecare Treatment
- Avoid douching and using products with fragrances
- Wash your vaginal area with only warm water
- Wear breathable underwear, preferably cotton. Avoid thongs and synthetic fibers.
- Incorporate these foods and liquids into your diet to combat dryness—cranberry juice, sweet potatoes, yogurt, fish, berries, soy, avocados, leafy greens, and nuts.
- Purchase over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers that are free of parabens and propylene glycol. If you want to go ultra-natural, try using organic coconut oil. You can use it both internally and externally.
- Take a high-quality probiotic for vaginal health.
- Drink more water. You can also eat hydrating foods like watermelon and cucumbers to up your daily quota. The Mayo Clinic recommends an average of 11-15 cups a day.
- Buy the right lubricants for vaginal dryness when engaging in sexy times. Sex should never hurt. If you’re experiencing dryness, you should lessen painful friction with a good lubricant, such as Vella Women’s Intimate Elixir. This product is liquid gold for vaginas. It supplements the body’s natural wetness and improves comfort during sex and play. Just the way it should be.
2. Healthcare Treatment
- Vaginal ring – This is a flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina and steadily releases a low amount of estrogen into the vaginal tissues and lasts for about three months. At that point, a doctor will have to remove it, and a new ring will be inserted.
- Vaginal tablet – This is a medicated tablet that is inserted vaginally to release a low dose of estrogen into your vaginal tissues.
- Vaginal cream – This is a prescription estrogen cream that will be applied to the entire vulvar area and inserted into the vagina as well.
In an interview in 2016, Cathy Jones, Canadian actor and comedian said, “I don't want to be the poster child for vaginal atrophy. I don't want people to look at my picture and say, ‘She's got vaginal atrophy!’ I just want to be a person who promotes the idea that we should address it.” Since then more famous females like Oprah Winfrey, Noami Watts, Cheryl Hines, and Tracee Ellis Ross have opened up about dealing with hormonal and vaginal changes and pain during intimacy.
In the same way, it’s time we talked more openly about what our bodies are experiencing. You don’t have to feel shame about vaginal dryness, and more importantly, you don’t have to feel alone in your struggles. Our mission at Vella is to help you with every area of your sexual health. You deserve to have a healthy and happy sexual appetite and a healthy and happy vagina to go with it.
“I don't want people to look at my picture and say, ‘She's got vaginal atrophy!’ I just want to be a person who promotes the idea that we should address it.” ~ Cathay Jones, actress, and comedian.