Why Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex are More Common Than You Think

Vaginal dryness is a common symptom in women of all ages. Here is what causes it and how to avoid the painful symptom.

Young woman holding a sign with a sad face

Did you know that up to 98% of women suffer from vaginal dryness, burning or itching after menopause? While this might be the case, the reality is most of them hesitate to seek treatment. Most see it as a normal part of ageing and fail to get treated for the same. Many young women are also affected by this condition, the leading cause of sexual dysfunction among women. If you too, suffer from the symptom, you need not suffer in silence. Read on to learn about the causes of vaginal dryness and the natural remedies to deal with it.

Causes of Vaginal Dryness

Middle ages Asian woman standing against a white wall.
Vaginal dryness is very common in menopausal women.

After menopause, the levels of the female hormone estrogen decrease in the blood, and this hormone is responsible for maintaining blood flow to the vagina. As a result, blood flow to the vagina decreases, resulting in dryness. In younger women, birth control pills or breastfeeding cause changes in the hormonal levels and can cause the symptom. Other medications responsible for vaginal dryness include cancer treatment, certain treatments for gynaecological disorders like fibroids and endometriosis, antidepressants and anti-allergy medicines. Women with diabetes also experience the symptoms of vaginal dryness.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Kidney Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation cause vaginal dryness. As TCM Physician Anita Pee explains, “A weak body constitution, multiple pregnancies, strenuous activities, or overexertion deplete young women’s Kidney essence (yin). Due to a decrease in Kidney yin, there are insufficient fluids to nourish the body, leading to vaginal dryness. Stress and anger can cause Liver Qi Stagnation, affecting the Spleen and its production of essence and blood, leading to vaginal dryness. Liver Qi Stagnation can also cause excessive Liver Heat, which depletes the fluids in the body and causes vaginal dryness.” Typically, the condition causes vaginal pain when sitting, standing, exercising, peeing and during sex.

Remedies for Managing Vaginal Dryness 

If you are suffering from this condition, do not hesitate to seek help. It is a very common problem, and various treatment options are available. In particular, consult your doctor if you have bleeding during sex or between your periods or have unusual vaginal discharge.

Here are some of the remedies you can try: 

Avoid harsh soaps or lotions 

We all love smelling nice after a shower. But strong and scented soaps and lotions can irritate the delicate lining of the vagina, causing further dryness. It is advisable to stay away from such products. Similarly, douching is also counterproductive. Also, creams and lotions like petroleum jelly can cause infection if inserted inside the vagina. 

Avoid closely spaced pregnancies 

Pregnancy takes a toll on the mother’s health and nutrition. Hence you have to ensure you give your body enough time to heal and replenish before planning your next pregnancy. Ensure a gap of at least one to two years between pregnancies and get adequate postnatal care to restore your body. Traditional remedies can help revitalise your body and regain nutrition after a pregnancy. 

Check your medicines 

If you are on any treatment, consult your doctor to check if that might be causing vaginal dryness. Your doctor may change your prescriptions and offer some vaginal lubricants. 

Topical oestrogen creams and moisturisers 

You may not realise it, but the neighbourhood pharmacy is well equipped to relieve you from vaginal dryness. You may try using topical oestrogen creams available over the counter (OTC) if you are menopausal. In younger women, vaginal lubricant gels may help. 

Diet 

A healthy diet goes a long way in maintaining body balance. Physician Anita Pee advises goji berries and lily bulbs to replenish yin in the body, which can help reduce vaginal dryness. A porridge made from goji berries and rice can be a nourishing and healthy meal. 

Herbal remedies 

Physician Anita Pee says, “Replenishing Kidney essence, yin and blood in the body, and soothing Liver qi are key to relieving vaginal dryness”. She recommends well known TCM formulae such as Kidney Yin Tonic (Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, 六味地黄丸) and Two-Solstice Pill (Er Zhi Wan, 二至丸 )to nourish the Kidneys and Jia Wei Xiao Yao San (加味逍遥片)to clear qi stagnation. These medicines are generally safe. However, consult a TCM physician if you are pregnant, have bleeding disorders, seizures, infectious diseases, or impaired Kidney and Liver functions. 

Acupuncture 

TCM physicians also recommend acupuncture at specific points to boost the kidney yin, strengthen the qi and blood in the body and soothe Liver qi

Acupressur

You can perform this acupressure massage at home to get relief. Massage the acupoint San yin jiao (SP6, 三阴交) with moderate pressure for 3-5 minutes a few times a day. This point is situated four finger-widths above the inner ankle, behind the tibia. A massage can tonify yin and blood at this location and is useful for dryness and other menopausal symptoms. Do not do this massage if you are pregnant. 

Vaginal dryness is a very common problem. However, lack of awareness and social taboos cause many women to suffer in silence. Break the barriers today – Seek help from your physician and try these self-help tips. 

References

  • EurekAlert. 2018. Vaginal problems diminish quality of life but often go unreported.[ Accessed 16 April 2022] 
  • Cleveland Clinic. Vaginal dryness. [Accessed on 16 April 2022] 

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