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Vaginal Dryness*

Vaginal dryness, or atrophic vaginitis, is an irritation of the vagina caused by a thinning and shrinking of the vaginal tissues and decreased lubrication of the vaginal walls.

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What Causes Vaginal Dryness?

Decreased estrogen is the most common cause, which is why vaginal dryness most frequently affects postmenopausal women. Removal of the ovaries, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation treatments also cause decreases in estrogen and thus can cause vaginal dryness. In some cases, vaginal dryness is also caused by a lack or loss of estrogen following childbirth (which can occur if the mother is breastfeeding).

Irritation of the vagina caused by tampons, toilet tissue, and contraceptives can also lead to dryness, and in some instances, latex condoms can cause an allergic reaction, which can lead to a drying of the vaginal tissue. Smoking can also cause vaginal dryness.

For some women, dryness is experienced as decreased vaginal secretions prior to intercourse. However, in this case, the cause is more often related to a man’s inability to fully arouse the woman sufficiently during foreplay, which normally results in natural self-lubrication of the vagina, or from his unwillingness to wait for his partner’s full arousal prior to intercourse.

Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness

  • Vaginal soreness (may also have itching or burning sensation)
  • Annoying and painful intercourse
  • Frequent urination and urinary urgency
  • Light bleeding after intercourse

What if You Do Nothing?

Repeated vaginal dryness is likely to continue until you pinpoint the cause of the problem and resolve it either with home remedies or after having it diagnosed and treated by a physician. Our providers in the Women’s Institute for Pelvic Health are available for consultation and will find the best treatment available for your specific condition.

*Information provided by the Urology Channel.

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