Vaginal dryness: symptoms, causes & treatment
A feeling of dryness, burning and itching in the genital area – these can be the typical symptoms of vaginal dryness. This issue remains a taboo, despite the fact that almost half of all women over the age of 45 suffer from vaginal dryness*. Yet this not only affects women during and after the menopause, but also younger women. The causes of vaginal dryness can be many and varied. Read here how you can recognise vaginal dryness, how it is caused and what you can do to prevent it.
Do you need a quick solution? Click here to go to the treatment options.
How do I recognise vaginal dryness?
Vaginal dryness results when the mucous membranes in the genital area are not supplied with sufficient moisture. In this case, the following symptoms can be experienced in the entrance to the vagina and the external genital area:
- Feeling of dryness
- Pain (e.g. during sex and in everyday situations such as sitting and riding a bike)
- Minor injuries or bleeding in the genital area (not only in connection with sex)
Causes of vaginal dryness
In principle, vaginal dryness can have many causes. Medical and psychological issues can both play a role:
• hormonal changes during and after the menopause
• hormonal changes after pregnancy (lactation)
• radiation or medication (chemotherapy) during cancer treatment
• unhealthy lifestyle, e.g. smoking
• use of the contraceptive pill
• after uterine or ovarian surgery
• disease, e.g. diabetes
• as a possible side effect of certain medication or antibiotics (e.g. for diabetes, depression, asthma or endometriosis)
• stress and an unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, alcohol)
What causes vaginal dryness?
One cause of vaginal dryness is a lack of the hormone oestrogen, e.g. due to hormonal changes during the menopause and also when breast-feeding. Vaginal dryness can also be caused by other things (e.g. side effects of medication, stress or psychological illnesses). If you suffer from permanent pain, a feeling of dryness and burning or notice abnormalities in your discharge, you must see a doctor. The doctor can determine whether the symptoms are due to a lack of hormones or another cause.
Once girls hit puberty, their ovaries start to produce oestrogen. They continue to produce this female sex hormone until they reach the menopause. Oestrogen has a whole range of different effects and, among other things, ensures that the tissue in the genital area (and also the skin in the vagina) is sufficiently elastic and has a good supply of blood. Further processes such as cell division and cell maturation in the vagina and, ultimately, the establishment of healthy vaginal flora are influenced by oestrogen.
Yet if the oestrogen level drops excessively, for whatever reason, this can cause so-called atrophy. This refers to a series of hormonally induced changes to the external genital area (vulva) and vagina. The lack of oestrogen can, for example, lead to reduced circulation and shrinkage of the tissue in the genital area as well as a loss of skin elasticity here. Vaginal dryness can then be a result of a lack of oestrogen.
How to treat vaginal dryness
The symptoms of vaginal dryness affect the mental and physical well-being of those affected. Quality of life is severely reduced and both love life and partnership can suffer from the symptoms; after all, sex can become unpleasant or even painful. Yet if you do suffer from vaginal dryness, you don't have to simply suffer in silence – there are a whole range of treatment options.
Preventive measures and alternative treatments
When faced with vaginal dryness due to stress, nervousness or family problems, vaginal creams can relieve the symptoms, but not the cause. Ensure you lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle and use relaxation methods to reduce stress.
To maintain the pH value in the genital area, ensure good personal hygiene and use wash lotions that do not dry the skin out further. Some women use vaginal douches because they believe this helps to keep the vagina very clean. Yet such vaginal douches tend to be harmful and often considerably worsen discomfort. The use of tampons can also cause the vagina to dry out as they absorb blood and vaginal fluids.
We strongly advise against household remedies, e.g. a vinegar bath; these can cause the already irritated genital area to dry out further.
Hormone treatment vs hormone-free treatment
When it comes to vaginal dryness, two medical methods are discussed in particular: hormone and hormone-free treatments. With hormone treatments, prescription-only vaginal creams or pessaries are used to level out the hormonal balance and regulate the lack of oestrogen. The hormones are released directly into the area or bloodstream and act locally to prevent vaginal dryness.
In addition to the use of predominantly local-acting hormones, e.g. with prescription-only creams and pessaries, it is also possible to treat vaginal dryness without hormones. This is suitable for all women, especially those who are breast-feeding or undergoing anti-hormonal breast cancer treatment. Hormone-free gels, creams and pessaries are available from pharmacies without a prescription and can help to relieve the symptoms of vaginal dryness. Regular use can help to prevent dry skin and skin irritation in the genital area.
Help for vaginal dryness: Vagisan MoistCream
The causes of vaginal dryness can be many and varied, yet this issue still remains a taboo! The quality of life of those affected is frequently severely compromised, which is why many women are extremely keen to find a remedy. You should always consult a doctor if you experience persistent, severe symptoms.
If you suffer from vaginal dryness and would prefer a hormone-free treatment option, Vagisan MoistCream with its dual effect can help!
In contrast to purely water-based gels, Vagisan MoistCream supplies the skin in the genital area with both moisture and soothing lipids (fats). It leaves the sensitive skin in the genital area feeling wonderfully soft and supple. This can have a positive effect during sexual intercourse. You can therefore also use Vagisan MoistCream to facilitate sexual intercourse. The cream does not affect sperm motility. Vagisan MoistCream can be applied in the vagina with or without an applicator.
We also have Vagisan MoistCream Cremolum for use in the vagina. The pessary is inserted without an applicator into the vagina, where it melts and, together with the vaginal fluids, forms a cream that provides long-lasting relief to the vaginal lining.
The Vagisan MoistCream Combi combines Vagisan MoistCream Cremolum and Vagisan MoistCream. Regular use of Vagisan MoistCream can help to prevent irritation and inflammation in the vagina and external genital area caused by dryness.
Tip: Especially when travelling the MoistCream Cremolum pessaries are very practical and fit easily into your luggage.
All products are available over the counter in your pharmacy. Find the Vagisan MoistCream product that best meets your needs: