11 Sep 2019
What’s the Solution for Vaginal Dryness in Menopause?
by Dr. Sharzad Green, PharmD
September is Menopause Awareness Month. There are an estimated 64 million postmenopausal women in the United States (US), and as many as 32 million women may suffer from symptoms including pain during sex, vaginal dryness, and vaginal irritation. Unfortunately, this is not dinner table talk and many women suffer in silence. I have worked with thousands of menopausal women for the past 20 years and a good majority of them have confided in me about their discomfort and how it affects their intimate relationships.
Let’s first take a quick look at the root cause of the problem in menopausal women. During the childbearing years, a thin layer of clear fluid covers the walls of the vagina. This thin layer keeps the lining of your vagina elastic, thick, and healthy. As you approach menopause, there is usually a drop in your estrogen (female hormone) level which reduces the amount of lubrication available. This can lead to vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy as well as dryness of the external female genitals (vulva). Vaginal dryness may cause fragile vulvovaginal tissues. The tissues may then become more susceptible to irritation, pain during intercourse or dyspareunia (dis-puh-ROO-nee-uh), and sometimes bleeding which is the result of injury and tearing of the vaginal tissue and vulva. Sometimes, even women who are not sexually active are bothered by vaginal dryness and irritation that may accompany it.
In addition to the hormone changes of menopause, there may be other factors causing vaginal dryness such as:
- Chemotherapy and radiation for cancer treatment
- Certain diseases such as diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome
- Some cold and allergy medicines can dry up mucus leading to vaginal dryness
- Chemical irritants, perfumes, and dyes in soaps, feminine hygiene products
- Swimming in pools with chlorine
- Anxiety and stress can interfere with your libido or sexual desire and may lead to vaginal dryness
- Surgical menopause and removal of ovaries (oophorectomy)
Fortunately, there are many options out there to help women suffering from vaginal dryness. They may include hormones, lubricants, oils, or vaginal moisturizers (creams that are used to restore moisture in the vagina).
Here is a comparison chart:
An example of an all-natural vaginal moisturizer is FabuVag® (www.naturalvaginalsolutions.com), which is an herbal cream. When looking for such a product, it is important to find a moisturizer that is free of harsh chemicals such as parabens, perfumes, synthetic dyes and coloring, glycerin, petrolatum, phthalates, and propylene glycol.
Pay attention to the labels and read them carefully since you apply the preparations to the most intimate area of your body and absorption of products is high in irritated tissue. When in doubt, ask an expert. For more information or to ask questions, feel free to contact me. I will be happy to help you navigate through the maze of options for vaginal dryness.
Dr. Sharzad Green, PharmD. is a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and specializes in bio-identical hormone therapy and natural alternatives for men and women. You may contact her at (480) 264-7600, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.