Back to Health A to Z. Vaginal dryness is a common problem that many women have at some point in their lives. But there are things that can help.
Yeast infections are one of the most common causes of vulvovaginitis in women. The vagina normally contains both healthy bacteria and unhealthy bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis BV occurs when more unhealthy bacteria than healthy bacteria grow.
Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that can result in discharge, itching and pain. The cause is usually a change in the normal balance of vaginal bacteria or an infection. Reduced estrogen levels after menopause and some skin disorders can also cause vaginitis.
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.
Vaginal dryness occurs when the tissues of the vagina are not well lubricated and healthy. Vaginal dryness can cause pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse, which may affect your relationship with your partner. The condition can also lead to bacterial or yeast infections.
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Vaginal Dryness, also known as vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitisis a common and distressing condition which can affect women at any stage of their adult life, causing embarrassment, a sense of loss and, at times, extreme physical discomfort. The most common cause of a decrease in estrogen levels is the menopause. During this period, the body decreases its production of estrogen, leading to thinner vaginal tissue and fewer lubricating glands.
The hormone fluctuations that begin in perimenopause bring about many physical changes. Similarly, regular sexual activity helps maintain vaginal flexibility and pliability, presumably because it increases blood supply to the vagina and can also have a stretching effect. Penetration may be uncomfortable or even painful, and can lead to irritation. Antihistamines, for example, dry vaginal tissue as well as nose and eye tissues.
Sometimes the skin around the vagina can be red, swollen or cracked. See 'How to treat vaginal thrush' below for more information. Mild thrush can usually be treated with a short course of antifungal medication.
Yeast infections are commonly treated with an over-the-counter antifungal cream or a prescription oral medication. These infections can recur again and again, so much so that some women feel their familiarity with them allows them to self-diagnose. However, many experts recommend getting a formal diagnosis from a doctor each time yeast infection signs and symptoms arise, just to be sure.