VAGINAL DRYNESS AND PAINFUL SEX
What is Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex?
Vaginal dryness is a condition where the vagina is unable to produce enough lubrication for regular functioning. It is one of the causes that can lead to painful sex, also known as dyspareunia.
Who Does Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex Affect?
Vaginal dryness and painful sex can become an issue for a woman at any age, due to a number of causes. It is more prevalent in women of ages 40 and above who have gone through menopause, but other women can experience it as well.
How Does Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex Occur?
The body produces natural lubrication to ensure that the vagina is protected from external elements. The lubrication is produced as a result of circulating estrogen hormone which plays a crucial role in women’s sexual health. When a woman reaches menopause, estrogen levels decrease in the body, resulting in vaginal dryness. The dryness causes friction during intercourse, resulting in discomfort and pain.
Causes Of Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex?
Vaginal dryness and painful sex can be attributed to several causes which are listed below:
Childbirth or breastfeeding
Low libido and no physical arousal before sex
Cancer treatment to the pelvic area (both chemotherapy and radiation treatments)
In certain cases, vaginal dryness has also been caused by diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome.
Psychological issues such as stress or depression can also result in vaginal dryness and painful sex.
Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex
The symptoms of vaginal dryness include:
Vaginal itchiness, discomfort or irritation
The need to pee more than usual
Smelly vaginal discharge or discolouration of vaginal discharge
Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Stages Of Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex
The degree of vaginal dryness and painful sex varies from woman to woman, however, there is usually no progression in overall vaginal dryness with time.
How is Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex Diagnosed?
Your doctor will begin by taking a detailed medical and gynecological history, followed by a complete pelvic examination. Your doctor may also order certain labs including blood workup and hormonal assays. They might also perform a pelvic ultrasound to rule out other differential diagnoses.
How is Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex Treated?
After determining the cause, the main treatments prescribed for vaginal dryness and painful sex include:
Over-The-Counter lubricants which are used during intercourse. These help in reducing the chances of painful sex.
Vaginal Moisturizers which are longer lasting and can provide relief for a few days at a time. Hence, they need to be used only two-three times a week and also don’t require application before sex.
Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT). There are certain hormones with declined levels due to menopause, and this therapy seeks to replace them with oral medication, skin implants or skin patches.
Sex Therapy and Counseling - If the painful sex is being caused by anxiety or vaginal dryness due to low libido and lack of arousal before sex, your doctor may also recommend counselling and sex therapy as a treatment option. Changing sexual positions, improving communication with your partner about what works and what doesn’t is also very important.
What If Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex Is Untreated
A woman going through menopause experiences a lot of changes in their body. This transformation, compounded with vaginal dryness and the painful sex can result in loss of their self-esteem and sexual confidence. Most women go through these changes silently, because discussing them with their partner or their doctor can be hard. Hence, it is necessary to seek consultation as early as possible.
Your Next Step
If you have any symptoms of relating to your vaginal dryness you may require further investigation. We would advise that you see your general practitioner and possibly obtain a referral to see Dr Alexander.
Dr Alexander can offer specialised help, advice on a possible diagnosis, further investigations and suitable treatment. Contact his rooms at www.my-obgyn.com.au