How to treat vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness (vaginal xerosis) can be caused by a couple of things, and you usually only notice if you try to have sex or masturbate, and things don’t work like it says on the label.

If you have not entered menopause, are not near to the age you should theoretically be heading towards menopause, and have not have a hysterectomy, partial or full, you shouldn’t be having a lot of trouble with vaginal moisture.

When this changes is when you are having a problem becoming sexually aroused (psychological), when the glands that produce the moisture have a problem (infection, disease) or when your oestrogen levels have been interrupted (hormonal disorders).

Vaginal dryness caused by low oestrogen

In every (‘normal’) woman past puberty, oestrogen is what keeps you juicy, your skin supple and everything ticking along nicely with your periods and ovulation. When you lose oestrogen, you lose moisture (among other things such as bone density and microflora), which is why when women hit menopause, they tend to get more wrinkly – the skin simply dries out and becomes thinner and less able to handle life’s pressures.

Some women may experience a dry vagina due to extremely low levels of oestrogen, however if this is what’s happening to you, you need to see a physician to be tested thoroughly to see what’s going on, as it is highly irregular. This is not the forum for these types of hormonal conditions so please see an experienced and qualified someone as soon as possible.

Vaginal dryness as a result of sexual arousal problems

If you are a woman of childbearing age, have not been diagnosed with any specific condition such as vaginitis, or an infection of any kind, you may have a sexual arousal disorder. This is a bit more complicated to deal with because a sexual arousal problem can stem from many places, and the official term for this is female sexual dysfunction.

So let’s start simple.

Are you attracted to your partner? Is he or she being nice to you? Are you being nice to him or her? Sexual arousal is 80 per cent brain, 20 per cent body.

If you carefully appraise your sexual connection to whomever you are suffering a dry vagina with and find it wanting, you’ve got other problems and your vagina aint it.

Glandular problems that can cause vaginal dryness

If you are physically turned on and ready for sex, but your vagina is not producing lubrication, you may have a glandular problem. This assumes that your sex drive is present, you are sexually attracted to your partner, and this situation is abnormal for you.

You may have a Bartholin’s gland cyst, or in fact another issue that affects the ability of your moisture-producing glands to pump out liquid when the time is right. These conditions may include autoimmune diseases such as a lichenoid condition or Sjogren’s syndrome.

Menopausal (induced or natural) atrophic vaginitis

In postmenopausal women, a lack of oestrogen can cause atrophic vaginitis. This can be remedied with oestrogen cream prescribed by your doctor. Oestrogen is a wonderful thing, but you can’t just replace the oestrogen and hope for the best, as without the other hormonal buffers to protect you, free-roaming oestrogen can be really dangerous, and feed certain types of cancer.

How to treat vaginal dryness

As with every health issue that comes up, we need to determine the true cause of the problem so we can treat it – permanently – or at the very least manage it, if it isn’t curable just yet.

The first step is find someone who can help you figure out what’s wrong. If someone tells you nothing is wrong, see someone else. Any unusual vaginal dryness is there for a reason, and maybe you need a divorce, maybe you need oestrogen cream, or maybe you need surgery or antibiotics – we won’t know until we know why this is happening to you.

You can’t do these things at home, so you are going to have to find an experienced and qualified practitioner of whatever kind you deem necessary to help you.

  1. If you think you could use some emotional support, see a counsellor;
  2. for your initial examination, see your doctor;
  3. your doctor will then refer you to a gynaecologist; or
  4. another specialist

Got a question? Ask Aunt Vadge.

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)