Vaginal dryness, or vaginal atrophy, describes a condition in which the vaginal walls become dry, thin, and inflamed. The problem occurs when estrogen levels decrease and are unable to maintain a normal level of vaginal lubrication.
Vaginal dryness often begins with the onset of menopause symptoms and becomes more common with age. The condition affects more than 50% of post-menopausal women between the ages of 51 and 60. It can also develop as a side effect of childbirth, breastfeeding, hysterectomy, chemotherapy, or certain medications or chronic illnesses.
While vaginal dryness is not necessarily a sign of illness, it can affect sexual function and your quality of life. Leaving the condition untreated can interfere with your ability to live confidently and comfortably.
An experienced provider can help you understand vaginal dryness and how treatment can make a difference in your life. Feminine rejuvenation specialist Winnie King, MD, and the team at her private practice in Houston, Texas, are experts in helping women find solutions to this condition. Dr. King and the team provide professional, compassionate care that can help you feel like yourself again.
In this post, we discuss five common signs of vaginal dryness and common treatment options.
1. Painful intercourse
The lack of lubrication that results from a drop in estrogen leaves the vaginal walls without the moisture necessary for comfortable intercourse. When your vaginal walls are dry, sexual penetration can be painful.
2. Difficulty reaching orgasm
The friction of intercourse without lubrication can cause irritation, pain, and burning in the dry vaginal walls. This can interfere with your ability to reach orgasm. A loss of interest in sex, along with a negative effect on personal relationships and your own emotional health, can result.
3. Vaginal burning or itching
When vaginal tissue becomes inflamed as a result of vaginal dryness, you may experience vaginal burning or itching. These symptoms can occur after sex or when you urinate.
Vaginal dryness can also affect the external genital area, called the vulva. The result can make it uncomfortable to put on underwear or cause irritation when wearing tight clothing as the material rubs against your irritated skin.
4. Vaginal bleeding
Thinning of the vaginal tissue leaves the blood vessels with less protection. The friction and pressure of sexual intercourse may damage the blood vessels, resulting in vaginal bleeding not associated with menstruation.
5. Urinary tract infections (UTI)
When it exists at normal levels, estrogen promotes the growth of good bacteria in vaginal tissue and helps to keep out bad bacteria. Declining estrogen levels allow more bad bacteria to thrive. The thinning tissue of the urethra and bladder may allow this bad bacteria access to your urinary tract, where it can cause a UTI.
Your treatment options for vaginal dryness depend on the cause of your symptoms and your overall health. Depending on your condition, Dr. King may recommend over-the-counter lubricants before intercourse, hormone therapy, and/or prescription medications or creams to relieve your symptoms.
If conservative approaches don’t deliver improvement, you may benefit from one of the following treatments:
The O-Shot is a treatment that uses platelets isolated from your own blood to rejuvenate vaginal tissue. Growth factors in the platelets encourage collagen production and blood flow to the region where the treatment is administered. The results can include improved vaginal lubrication and improved sexual experience.
Ultra Femme 360
The Ultra Femme 360 treatment from BTL can help relieve vaginal dryness by applying radiofrequency (RF) energy to vaginal tissue. This eight-minute therapy uses a comfortable, controlled heat to increase blood flow in the treated areas without the need for anesthesia or downtime.
In addition to improving natural vaginal lubrication, the Ultra Femme 360 can also tighten the labia, decrease the size of the introitus (vaginal opening) and vaginal canal, and improve sensation. It may also improve stress continence.
Find out more about vaginal dryness and what you can do to relieve symptoms that interfere with sexual function and self-confidence. Call our Houston office today to schedule a consultation.