A woman’s vaginal health is an important part of her overall health. Vaginal issues can take a toll on a woman’s emotional state, relationship, self-esteem, and desire for sex, just to name a few.
A decrease in estrogen secretions (eg. around menopause) can have several negative effects on the body, one of which being inadequate lubrication of the vaginal walls which leads to vaginal dryness. This is extremely irritating and uncomfortable for a woman, and can also negatively impact her vaginal health (by causing soreness, painful intercourse and/or light bleeding, recurrent infection, etc.) and overall health (by affecting self-image, emotional intimacy, etc.).
A thin layer of clear fluid typically helps the vaginal walls stay lubricated. Estrogen aids in sustaining the production of this fluid and helps to maintain a healthy vagina in terms of adequate moisturization, thickness, and elasticity of the vaginal walls. This means that when estrogen is decreased, vaginal tissues can become dry, thin and less elastic. This lends itself to more fragile tissue that may tear and/or bleed, and can also be more susceptible to infections.
While vaginal dryness is often associated with menopause, it can be prompted by other causes at various ages.
Vaginal dryness can occur at different times in a woman’s life which can be prompted by various causes, including:
The severity of vaginal dryness may vary from woman to woman, but nonetheless, it is commonly irritating and uncomfortable and can significantly impact a woman’s quality of life.
It is advisable to seek medical advice if you experience symptoms of vaginal dryness.
A study conducted by the North American Menopause Society (2014) demonstrated the impact of vaginal discomfort on women and their partners. Of the 1,000 women (aged 55 – 65) experiencing vaginal discomfort and 1,000 male partners, it was found that:
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Simon, James A., et al. Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy's Impact on Sex and Relationships (CLOSER) survey: emotional and physical impact of vaginal discomfort on North American postmenopausal women and their partners. PubMed. Retrieved on March 17, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23736862