Vaginal Dryness after Menopause: How to Treat It?

Vaginal Dryness after Menopause: How to Treat It?

Vaginal dryness after menopause is a common symptom in postmenopausal women. Even though women of all ages experience vaginal dryness at all ages, the frequency is more after menopause. According to Harvard Health Publishing, around 50% of the women are affected by vaginal dryness, irritation and pain during sex post-menopause, but they do not seek medication. 

Read on to know the reasons, diagnosis and treatment for vaginal dryness after menopause.

What Causes Vaginal Dryness after Menopause?

Vaginal dryness is a sign of the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM). It is also known as vaginal atrophy. In this condition, your vaginal tissues become thin, dry, less elastic, inflamed and irritated due to a decline in the oestrogen levels.

GSM can negatively impact your regular life, because unlike other menopausal symptoms that decline over time, GSM lingers for long due to the changes in the vagina.

Other causes for vaginal dryness, apart from low levels of oestrogen are:

  • Certain cold and allergy medications
  • Certain antidepressants
  • Vaginal douching
  • Less/no foreplay before sex
  • Sjögren’s syndrome – an autoimmune disorder where your body cells that produce moisture are attacked.

Why Oestrogen Levels Drop?

Your oestrogen levels may decline naturally with age when your ovaries do not produce enough female sex hormones. Yet, other reasons may drop the levels of oestrogen in women, such as: 

  • Hysterectomy – removal of the uterus
  • Oophorectomy – removal of ovaries
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Anti-estrogen medications
  • Childbirth and breastfeeding

How Is Vaginal Dryness after Menopause Is Diagnosed?

Dr Caroline Mitchell, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, says that women assume vaginal dryness to be a part of ageing and deal with it. However, not all women suffer from vaginal dryness after menopause. So, vaginal dryness is not a part of ageing; women must seek immediate medical attention to get the problem treated at the earliest.

See your doctor if you are experiencing, itching, burning or any other vaginal discomfort.

Your gynaecologist may do a physical examination and review your medical history. Discuss all the symptoms you have experienced during your perimenopause and menopause stages. Also, speak out what are the things that make your symptoms worse or better. This will help your doctor diagnose the problem quickly. 

Your gynaecologist may do a pelvic exam and may check your vagina for redness, inflammation, thinning or other symptoms to rule out vaginal infection or urinary tract infection.

You may also be recommended to get the pap test and other tests done to investigate the health of your vagina.

How Is Vaginal Dryness Treated?

Your doctor may prescribe certain medications or treatments to relieve vaginal dryness and painful sex related to GSM.

  • Vaginal moisturisers – keep your vaginal tissues moist with these moisturisers.   Apply them every few days to keep the vagina healthy.
  • Vaginal lubricants – reduce dryness and pain during sex by applying these lubricants at the time of sexual activity.
  • Vaginal oestrogen/ estrogen creams, pills, tablets or rings – reduce vaginal dryness and refresh the vaginal tissues with these low-dose vaginal oestrogen pills, creams, tablets or rings. The low dose of oestrogen effectively treats vaginal dryness and its associated symptoms. However, discuss all the medical conditions before using vaginal oestrogen therapy.
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) medication – SERM medication, such as Femarelle is orally taken. This medication is effective in reducing vaginal atrophy, dryness and pain during sex. However, SERM treatment is not recommended for women with the risk of breast cancer or those who had breast cancer.
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) – ease vaginal dryness and painful intercourse with DHEA in the form of a nightly vaginal suppository.

For healthy vaginal tissues in postmenopausal women, stimulate your vagina or regularly participate in sexual activity with or without a partner.

Inference:

Vaginal dryness after menopause does not affect all the women. However, do not ignore any signs of vaginal tightness or dryness, pain during sex and other menopause symptoms and seek immediate medical attention. Get the condition treated at the earliest and ease the GMS signs. Also, do not suffer in silence. Do not expect the condition to ease on its own. It is essential to rule out any other underlying medical condition.

You can also take non-hormonal supplements based on the SERM model, such as Femarelle to effectively improve your vaginal health and decrease vaginal dryness after menopause. These supplements are made with natural ingredients and do not have any side effects.