LET'S OPEN UP ABOUT VAGINAL DRYNESS
Vaginal dryness only occurs when you reach a certain age, right? Actually - totally wrong!
Vaginal dryness can happen to absolutely anyone, at any age. We understand how vaginal dryness can sometimes make someone feel a little embarrassed or incompetent during intimate moments, but trust us - there is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s completely natural to experience from time to time.
To help normalise the topic, here are some common causes of vaginal dryness, and a few treatments and remedies to help relieve any symptoms.
WHAT IS VAGINAL DRYNESS AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT US?
There are three main sex hormones which have a key role to play with vaginal dryness:
This hormone is produced in the ovaries and plays an important role in reproductive and sexual development. During puberty, oestrogen develops our ‘sex characteristics’ such as breasts, hips, pubic hair and natural lubrication; it also helps to regulate a menstrual cycle, controlling the growth of the uterine lining during the first part of a cycle.
Also produced in the ovaries, progesterone’s main role is to support the early stages of pregnancy by facilitating the implantation of a fertilised egg. This hormone is a crucial part of the menstrual cycle; after you ovulate each month, progesterone helps thicken the lining of the uterus to prepare for a fertilized egg. If there is no fertilized egg, progesterone levels drop and, you guessed it, your period starts.
That’s right, testosterone is not just a ‘male hormone’. Small amounts of testosterone are produced in the ovaries each month. Along with oestrogen, this hormone helps with the growth, maintenance and repair of reproductive tissues, along with kick-starting our sexual desire.
Can you guess which hormone is the main culprit behind vaginal dryness?
It’s oestrogen. Normally, glands in the cervix produce a natural substance which helps keep the vagina lubricated. oestrogen is responsible for maintaining this natural lubricant, so when your oestrogen levels drop, you are more likely to experience vaginal dryness.
Without natural lubrication, it’s no wonder people feel discomfort or pain during sex. Regardless of how turned on you are, if your body doesn’t respond the way you expect it to before or during sex, it’s normal to worry that there is something wrong with you.
We’re here to tell you this is not the case! Oestrogen levels are bound to fluctuate from time to time, so no matter how aroused you may feel, vaginal lubrication is sometimes simply out of your control.
CAUSES OF VAGINAL DRYNESS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT
Throughout different points in our lives, it’s completely natural for hormones to fluctuate. Once you learn about these causes, you’ll come to realise that it’s no wonder vaginal dryness is so common. Here are a few common reasons for this that you may not have thought would be the root of your vaginal dryness:
Birth control pills, antidepressants and antihistamines are some common culprits, lots of women find that vaginal dryness is a completely normal symptom they experience when taking them.
Changes to your hormone levels, brought on by your period or increased stress levels, can also cause symptoms of vaginal dryness. Don’t worry, these hormone changes don’t last forever, and KY Jelly is here for you when you need a little extra help!
The NHS advise that perfumed soaps, gels and antiseptics can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina, which can cause irritation or dryness. It’s also recommended to avoid cleaning the inside of your vagina, as this can also disrupt the balance of healthy bacteria. Thankfully, due to natural discharge, vaginas are entirely self-cleaning - so no need to purchase any special douches out there!
PERIMENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE
Leading up to, during, and after menopause, vaginal tissues can become thinner and more easily irritated - leading to symptoms of vaginal dryness. These sudden changes can be a real shock on the body, and can seriously impact sex and intimacy for some women - but you are not alone, ladies! Vaginal dryness is a totally normal symptom of menopause, and doesn’t mean your sex life has to come to a halt - quite the opposite.
After giving birth and when breastfeeding, oestrogen levels are decreased. This can cause a thinning of the vaginal tissues, much like that experienced during menopause. Other factors like exhaustion from lack of sleep, physical or emotional trauma experienced following the birth or postpartum depression can contribute to symptoms of vaginal dryness.
There are a number of reasons why someone might undergo a hysterectomy, but the result is the same for everyone - the immediate start of the menopause. As the body is no longer able to produce ooestrogen, vaginal dryness is a common symptom.
Although all of the above reasons definitely play a part in vaginal dryness, it’s also important to remember our bodies need sexual cues to become aroused. It’s common for women to feel pressured when it comes to climaxing, with 3 out of 4 women admitting to faking an orgasm at some point. If you don’t allow time for your mind to become sexually aroused, or if you rush into penetrative sex with your partner without taking to the time to ‘get in the mood’, it’s no surprise that your body hasn’t had time to catch up when it comes to producing natural lubricant. Take your time, communicate with your partner - and don't feel the pressure to fake anything. Trust us, your partner WANTS you to feel good.
HOW TO HELP RELIEVE THE SYMPTOMS OF VAGINAL DRYNESS
Thankfully there are plenty of ways you can help to relieve the discomfort of vaginal dryness.
- If you are using perfumed soaps or washes around your vagina, try switching to an unperfumed brand and see if things improve. Things like perfumed vaginal cleansers or douches tend to make symptoms of vaginal dryness worse - nobody wants that!
- Use a water-based lubricant before/during sex. Water-based lubricants like KY Jelly can help add moisture to the vaginal lining, making it a great alternative when you’re feeling discomfort during sex. Read all about water-based lubrication here.
- One of the more common treatments for vaginal dryness, due to low oestrogen levels, is topical ooestrogen therapy. Chat with your GP if you want to explore replacing some of the hormones that your body may no longer be making.
WHEN TO SEEK YOUR GP REGARDING VAGINAL DRYNESS
If it has been a few weeks and some of the things you tried at home aren’t helping, then it might be time to see your GP. Vaginal dryness rarely indicates a serious medical condition, but you should always seek immediate help from a medical professional if you are experiencing an increased level of discomfort that lasts beyond a few days, if you experience discomfort during sex, or if your symptoms are accompanied by severe vaginal bleeding.
Have you had experience with vaginal dryness? Let us know your thoughts and top tips by DMing us on social @kyjelly_uk. We’d love to chat!