There’s no doubt that our bodies change as we age. As women, this includes our vaginal health and a condition called vaginal atrophy or dryness. This can occur when the walls of your vagina become thin, dry, and inflamed.
Although most women experience vaginal atrophy during or after menopause, studies show that an estimated 10% to 40% of postmenopausal women experience discomfort due to vaginal dryness that requires treatment, but only 25% of these women seek treatment. Fortunately, numerous home remedies for dryness have made it possible to improve vaginal health and minimize or eliminate many symptoms.
How Can I Tell if I Have Vaginal Atrophy?
Vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis develops when the walls of your vagina become thinner and lose lubrication. The condition occurs when your body produces less estrogen, such as during and after menopause, which is why women over 50 are most commonly affected.
When your estrogen levels drop, it can cause a number of issues, including dryness, thinning of the vaginal walls, and loss of elasticity and tone. Changing hormones can also affect your skin and the external parts of your vagina (the labia majora and vulva), causing them to wrinkle and sag.
What Are the Causes and Risk Factors?
Vaginal atrophy is triggered by a decrease in estrogen levels, which is why it most commonly affects post-menopausal women and those in perimenopause. Ovarian surgery, cancer treatments, and breastfeeding can also result in a substantial decline in estrogen levels. Several factors may increase the risk of vaginal atrophy, including smoking, lack of sexual activity, and no vaginal births in the patient’s medical history.
Although vaginal dryness is a normal part of aging for many women, it can also be inconvenient because it can interfere with your quality of life. But don’t fret! There are a number of home remedies for dryness available to help relieve some of these uncomfortable symptoms.
7 Signs of Vaginal Atrophy
1. Burning or Itching in Your Vagina
In the event of vaginal atrophy, you may feel a burning or itching sensation in your vagina as a result of inflamed tissues. You may experience this randomly or at certain times, such as after sex or when you urinate.
2. Frequent Urinary Tract Infections
You may become more susceptible to infections as your vaginal tissues thin. Typically, this happens when bacteria spread from your vaginal area to your urethra (which carries urine from your bladder outside your body), bladder, ureters (which carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder), and even your kidneys.
3. Vaginal Bleeding
As your vaginal tissue thins, your blood vessels have less protection and may leak blood, especially when subjected to friction or pressure during sexual activity.
4. Changes to Vaginal Discharge
Often, women also find that their vaginal discharge changes, becoming more watery, discolored, and slightly odorous and experiencing irritation and burning. Though these symptoms can be concerning, they are simply the result of hormonal changes and are typically not an indication of something more serious.
5. Constant Urge to Pee (Urinary Incontinence)
Incontinence and vaginal atrophy can occur separately, but they often occur together. This is primarily due to the drop in estrogen levels during menopause. Before menopause, estrogen protects the lining of the vagina and stimulates vaginal secretions, resulting in elasticity and strength of the vaginal walls. Similarly, estrogen helps to strengthen and elongate the lining of the bladder and urethra. Dropping estrogen levels due to menopause can create a double whammy, and many women experience both conditions at the same time.
6. Dryness and Pain During Sex
Reduced estrogen levels can lead to a reduction in the production of vaginal fluids, which serve as lubricants in your vagina. If your vagina is dry, sexual penetration may be difficult and sexual intercourse may be painful. This can contribute to a loss of sexual pleasure as well as problems between you and your partner.
7. Trouble Reaching Orgasm
It’s not surprising that you might have difficulty reaching orgasm if sex is uncomfortable or painful – a condition known as orgasmic dysfunction. Orgasmic dysfunction is often caused by vaginal atrophy during midlife.
Home Remedies for Vaginal Atrophy
There are several home remedies for dryness that can make a big difference. Here are some of the best ways to treat vaginal atrophy.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Doing pelvic floor exercises such as Kegels can increase blood flow to vaginal tissues. Kegels are performed by flexing the muscles used to stop urine flow.
Another option is estrogen therapy. Adding in estrogen through a body cream, supplements, or patches can help restore flexibility and moisture to the vagina.
Eat Foods with Phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are found in foods such as soy, nuts, seeds, and tofu, among others. These compounds function similarly to estrogens.
An active sexual life is one of the greatest home remedies for dryness. Blood flow to the vaginal tissues increases when a woman is aroused, and this helps create moisture.
You don’t have to suffer from the frustrating effects of vaginal dryness! Reclaim your vaginal health and try some of these home remedies for dryness today.