When to See a Doctor for Vaginal Dryness
Some symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes and mood swings, are often used as punch lines. Women have been facing these types of symptoms for generations. But one symptom women rarely talk about is vaginal dryness. Whether their menopause came on naturally, surgically or because of an illness, vaginal dryness is a problem that many live with and it can be quite distressing.
Vaginal dryness is often treatable, but your doctor can’t help you unless you speak up. If you are living with vaginal dryness symptoms, you are not alone and you won’t be the first woman to mention this to your doctor. Learn more about the causes of vaginal dryness and treatment options.
Menopause or perimenopause is the most common cause of vaginal dryness, but there are other possible causes as well that can affect women of any age. They include:
Immune disorders, such as Sjӧgrens syndrome
Having recently given birth
Taking anti-estrogen medications
Taking medications like allergy and cold medicines
Spending long periods in swimming pools and hot tubs
Many women find they can manage the problem at home, perhaps using vaginal dryness natural remedies. Here are some tips for at-home treatments you may not have tried yet:
If you smoke cigarettes, try to stop.
Keep well hydrated.
Use water-based lubricants and vaginal moisturizers. Avoid douching and using perfumed products, including lubricants and spermicides.
Don’t use soap to clean your genital area.
Use plain detergents, without scents or fabric softeners when washing undergarments.
Exercise most days of the week.
Use natural lubricants, such as aloe vera or jojoba oil.
Consider introducing or increasing soy-based foods.
Enjoy longer foreplay before sexual intercourse.
Vaginal dryness is very common, so your doctor will have seen other women with the same problem. If you have vaginal dryness and it’s uncomfortable, painful, or affecting your sexual health, it’s time to say something. If you have tried the various suggestions for self-care at home and they didn’t work, tell your doctor straight away so she knows what type of treatment may work best for you.
Your primary care physician (PCP) may be able to help you find a solution for vaginal dryness, but it’s more likely that you will see a gynecologist. A gynecologist specializes in the female reproductive system. If the vaginal dryness is caused by an autoimmune disease, an endocrinologist could also help you manage the symptoms. Keep in mind that your insurance company may require that you have a referral to see a gynecologist, so the first stop should likely be your PCP.
Vaginal dryness treatments could include:
Creams, suppository or vaginal rings with estrogen (local treatment)
Hormone replacement therapy through oral medications, creams, or patches
If your symptoms are caused by a disease or condition, treatment for that condition may help resolve the vaginal dryness as well.
Seeking help for vaginal dryness is nothing to be embarrassed about. A healthy sex life is something anyone should be able to enjoy. There are many approaches, from at-home therapies to prescription drugs, that may be the solution for you. It is true that vaginal dryness is not a serious medical problem, but if it affects your quality of life, it’s worth treating.