Going Through A Dry Patch?
It can happen at any time, and the changes at menopause mean you can suffer vaginal dryness and discomfort – but help is available.
Uncomfortable dryness is something that can happen at any point in a woman’s life, and it’s not something that is generally talked about. However it is certainly common as nearly half of all women between the ages of 40 and 59 suffer from vaginal dryness at some point. For perimenopausal and menopausal wome it ranks as one of the top ten problems.
If you are someone who experiences high levels of stress, is depressed, or who suffers from repeated vaginal infections such as thrush and cystitis, then you are also more likely than the average woman to experience some level of dryness, itchiness or discomfort.
How To Avoid It
Dryness affects you, your relationship and can impact libido so here are some simple methods you can use to avoid either contracting or exacerbating the condition so you could try these first:
- keep bath time simple and avoid heavily perfumed soaps and shower and bath products that will dry out the skin in this delicate area.
- use natural, not synthetic or chemical, products on your body and for washing and laundry.
- switch to all cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting pants or trousers
- do not wear tights if you can avoid them and instead wear stockings or knee high socks.
- if you have to wear tights during the day, limit the damage by wearing a loose, cotton, T-shirt , night-gown or dressing gown in the evening without underwear and let your body breathe.
- drink plenty of water to keep your whole body hydrated and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and antihistamines which all deplete your body of water.
- maintain a healthy diet and make sure you avoid a very low-fat, high-carb diet as it does not provide the nutrients needed to make sex hormones. You need cholesterol as the oestrogen needed for vaginal lubrication is made from it, so include some fat in your diet.
- boost your intake of oestrogen through your diet by including sources of foods high in phytoestrogens such as soy, apples, nuts, flaxseed, celery, alfalfa, and whole grains.
The most common cause of vaginal dryness is declining oestrogen production, which leads to thinning and drying of the vaginal wall, so follow the dietary advice above. Reduced muscle tone also plays a part so those core muscle exercises which can improve your sex life can also be very useful here! Some other things that you might like to try include the following:
Natural progesterone has been found by many women to be helpful in replenishing the body’s natural moisture when used over a period of 4 to 6 weeks. Progesterone is responsible for sex drive in women, so it can also help with increasing libido.
A combination cream with the majority ingredient of progesterone, plus two natural oestrogens for better lubrication will help if you are naturally low in oestrogen.
Vitamin E (1000IU dose) is often suggested as a useful supplement to help with dryness and itching.
Personal lubricants are an immediate solution and there is certainly a wide variety to choose from. Generally oil-based lubricants are not recommended because they do not dissolve as easily as water-based lubricants and can cause a vaginal infection. Glycerin should also be avoided because it may cause yeast infections and can be harmful to diabetics.
Water-based and water-soluble products are best and look for one that is slightly acidic (pH balanced) to match the normal body fluids and inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms, particularly yeast.