What are the causes and effects of “vaginal dryness”?
Vaginal dryness, also known as vaginal atrophy, is a common symptom of menopause affecting up to 50% of women. The dryness can cause soreness, itching, light bleeding after intercourse or pain during intercourse and can even lead to urinary tract infections and thrush.
The dryness is due to a drop in oestrogen which would normally promote skin elasticity and lubrication of the vaginal tissue. The lubrication, also known as the mucous membrane is slightly acidic which can help fight off bacteria and infections. The reduction in oestrogen leads to the skin becoming thin and sensitive and not just in the vaginal area, it’s also the reason women can experience increased wrinkles and skin ageing around menopause.
And don’t forget, just because low oestrogen can lead to vaginal dryness there could be other causes that you may wish to consider. These include antihistamine containing medications (cold/flu remedies, asthma and allergy meds), some antidepressants, stress, lack of sexual desire, soaps, lotions and perfumes as well as alcohol and caffeine consumption.
What you can do to help reduce vaginal dryness ?
There are a number of diet and lifestyle changes that you can try which may help support hormone balance and oestrogen production, these include –
- Manage your stress
- Take regular exercise
- Get quality sleep
- Use unperfumed bath and shower products
- Avoid hormone disrupting chemicals including – parabens, BPA’s, PFC’s, phthalates and dioxin.
- Keep well hydrated
- Eat a low GL diet
- Reduce your intake of sugar, caffeine and alcohol
- Focus on some key nutrients that may help support the vaginal lining and reduce dryness –
- Vitamin E – avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, spinach, broccoli
- Vitamin A – sweet potato, carrot, butternut squash, spinach, kale
- Vitamin D – oily fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, sun exposure
- Omega 3,6 & 9 – oily fish, oil of evening primrose, olive oil, flax seed, hemp seeds, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds
Omega 7 from buckthorn oil has been shown to have beneficial effects on vaginal health, you could try this one
Or you can try a moisturiser/lubricant, but look for one that is free from hormones, parabens and perfume/fragrance like this one.
Important – if you are experiencing vaginal dryness and it is stopping you from being intimate with your partner it’s important that you talk to them about it so that it doesn’t affect your relationship !
If you would like to address your menopause symptoms through nutrition and lifestyle and would like personalised advice please get in touch. Or head over to my Facebook group and get more tips on how to make your menopause “Happy & Healthy”.