Dear Aunt Vadge,
Why is my vagina always dry? I have to use a lot of lube all the time, it gets messy and annoying, I also get very sore sometimes. I just want to avoid sex all together. Doctor says it’s menopause, but this has been going on way before that came about.
Menopause is a process that takes some time to come about, about a year sometimes two. This process before your periods actually stop is called perimenopause, and your ovaries slowly stop producing oestrogen and progesterone over this time. This means your dryness could be caused by this long process, which is why it would have started before your periods actually stopped.
You are experiencing what’s known as genitourinary symptoms of menopause, but the name for your dry, sometimes sore vagina used to be called atrophic vaginitis. It is the tissue of your vagina and vulva changing as the source of oestrogen that keeps it juicy and plump is now gone. This results in dryness, easily irritated tissue, itching and other symptoms.
You can ask your doctor for an oestrogen cream to apply to your vaginal tissue as an experiment. If the oestrogen cream helps, then that was your issue. If it doesn’t help, or doesn’t help as much as you need, then you could start looking at other causes of your vaginal dryness with your doctor.
There are other ways to naturally increase circulating oestrogens, however I would recommend that you see a natural medicine practitioner (naturopath, herbalist) for advice here. You can use foods, herbs and other tools to bump up your oestrogen levels using plant oestrogens, called phyto-oestrogens.
There is some controversy regarding the use of plant oestrogens in menopausal women, so this is why you should see an experienced practitioner who can guide you safely. Don’t get scared off by phyto-oestrogens, but it’s important to augment your hormones safely.
There are definitely things you can do at least at first to see if lack of oestrogen is causing your issues, and then go from there. You may also like to use vaginal moisturisers in the meantime – there are a few really good brands that make vaginal moisturisers that stick to the walls of your vagina for longer periods of time (instead of just leaking out) that can make a huge difference. The Yes Yes Yes brand is a great place to start.
We’ve discussed how to moisten a dry vagina here.
Lube is good during sex, but you need to keep your vaginal cells hydrated before and after, so the process feels nicer. Dry, irritated vaginal cells aren’t going to respond well to sex, lube or no lube. The brand suggested above also does hydrating lubricant, so check out their range.