Vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness is a common problem for women during and after menopause, although inadequate vaginal lubrication can occur at any age. Vaginal dryness is a hallmark sign of vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) — thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to a decline in estrogen.

A thin layer of moisture coats your vaginal walls. When you're sexually aroused, more blood flows to your pelvic organs, creating more lubricating vaginal fluid. But hormonal changes associated with your menstrual cycle, aging, menopause, childbirth and breast-feeding may affect the amount and consistency of this moisture.

Symptoms Causes

Vaginal dryness may be accompanied by signs and symptoms such as:

  • Itching or stinging around the vaginal opening and the lower part of the vagina
  • Burning
  • Soreness
  • Pain or light bleeding with intercourse
  • Urinary frequency or urgency
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections

When to see a doctor

Vaginal dryness affects many women, although they frequently don't bring up the topic with their doctors. If vaginal dryness affects your lifestyle, in particular your sex life and relationship with your partner, consider making an appointment with your doctor. Living with uncomfortable vaginal dryness doesn't have to be part of getting older.

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