While many factors can cause vaginal dryness in a post-menopausal woman, the primary reason is the decline of the hormone estrogen. The body goes through many changes as a consequence of reduced estrogen; the loss of vaginal moisture is among the initial symptoms. Furthermore, lubrication during sexual activity is also lost.
The average age of menopause is around 50; after fifty, the vagina and its supporting tissue begin to change. The skin of the lips of the vagina and the area around it becomes thinner, as does the lining of the vaginal wall. Vaginal walls become less elastic and may undergo atrophy due to less estrogen.
The glands do not produce enough moisture, and as a consequence of these changes, the vagina gets dry.
Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness
Since you have reached this far in the article, you already have a general idea of the symptoms of vaginal dryness. However, let’s address these symptoms in detail now. Common symptoms you may experience during vaginal dryness, include
- Loss of lubrication during sex: It is evident from the very name of this condition. Vaginal dryness not only affects the glands that produce moisture during normal circumstances but the ones that lubricate the vagina during sex as well.
- Pain during sex: As described before, a decline in estrogen makes the lining of the vagina as well as the skin around it thin, fragile, and less elastic. As a result, the vaginal lining and the skin around it become more susceptible to damage. Even gentle friction during sex can cause pain and discomfort, especially when if the lubrication is poor.
- Reduced desire for sex: While a decline in estrogen is the primary reason behind loss of libido, pain, and discomfort during sex also have a knock-on effect. The last thing anybody wants is to feel irritation during sex.
- Pain, even when not having sex: It is not uncommon for women to experience pain even when they are not having sex. Vaginal dryness can make it difficult to urinate, sit, exercise, or even work. Thus, vaginal dryness may significantly lower the overall quality of life of a woman.
- Change in vaginal discharge: Many women also find that their vaginal discharge changes color, odor, and consistency. It becomes more watery, discolored, and slightly smelly, with irritation and a burning feeling.
- Getting vaginal tests becomes difficult: In many cases, having a vaginal test or a cervical smear becomes more difficult or even painful.
- Change in vaginal and vulval appearance: Many women notice that their vagina and vulva look different. It is because of the thinning and loss of elasticity of the skin and the atrophy of glands and walls of the vagina.
- Emotional Impact: Vaginal dryness invariably impacts a woman emotionally. Acceptance of body changes can be difficult, and pain and discomfort due to the condition cause a loss of self-confidence.
For many women, vaginal dryness and other related symptoms may cause confusion and make them think they have a sexually-transmitted disease. As a result, they may end up either keeping this condition to themselves or using the wrong medications and other therapies. It is important to communicate such issues with not only your partner but a health professional as well.
Premature Menopause and Vaginal Dryness
While normal menopause happens in your forties or fifties, premature menopause is when it occurs before the age of 40. Premature menopause affects nearly one percent of women, and the earlier the menopause, the severe the consequences. Many women take preventative measures to take care of their vaginal health by using a quality vaginal health probiotics.
Premature menopause leads to vaginal dryness with all sorts of problems in the sex life, relationships, and life quality in general. It also causes women infertility, the worst of all the consequences. As a result, it takes a huge toll on a woman’s physical and mental health.