Vaginal dryness occurs when the production of estrogen is reduced, typically during menopause. As women age, the levels of estrogen drop until the body is no longer able to manufacture it in sufficient amounts. During that time, a typical female experiences gradual increase in vaginal dryness.
The symptom may be caused by a variety of reasons, and it may at first appear as a minor irritation, which is often dismissed as a temporary condition. However, the walls of the vagina continue to become more fragile and lose their elasticity, eventually resulting in a diminished capacity to produce vaginal fluids and lubricants.
Vaginal dryness can occur at any age. Other than menopause, it can be caused by childbirth followed with breastfeeding, radiation therapy, certain medications and douching. The reasons may range from physiological factors to emotional issues and in many cases include anxiety as well as hormonal changes and lack of desire. For many women, vaginal dryness frequently leads to further psychological problems as the condition often affects their intimate relationship with their partner.
Hormonal changes are one of the most recognized causes for vaginal dryness. The changes in the level of hormones may begin as early as pre-menopause and continue during the menopause. In addition, cancer treatments and childbirth may also affect the production of hormones creating imbalanced environment within the body.
Certain medications can be the reason for vaginal dryness as well. These typically include anti-estrogen drugs, cold treatments and allergy medicines. The condition typically progresses slowly but may linger for extended periods of time after the medication is discontinued.
The administration of radiation therapy, especially within the pelvic region, almost always results in vaginal dryness and begins aggressively as the treatment is typically combined with medicinal intake accelerating the process. The radiation therapy attacks the cells that produce moisture within the body resulting in reduction of fluid supply to the vaginal walls.
In many cases, the disorder is temporary and can be successfully treated with estrogen therapy, vaginal inserts, lubricants and moisturizers. Several of these choices can be administered in combination with each other. Another presently available option is a holistic approach with the use of topical creams or orally taken capsules containing blends of certain herbs. The ultimate goal is to restore the protective mucosal barrier and reinstate the usual healthy condition of the vagina. It is always recommended to obtain an advice from a licensed physician before any treatment.