Sixty percent of women will experience vaginal dryness during menopause, but that's not the only cause. Dryness can occur due to childbirth, surgery, immune disorders, cancer therapies and certain allergy and anti-depressant medications.
Vaginal dryness can have several causes, including hormones and age, but if it’s a persistent problem, definitely bring it up with your gynecologist.
"This can be very, very irritating," OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. "It's the estrogen that drives the [vagina], and it's what keeps the walls of the vagina thick, elastic and lubricated. It's really important to have estrogen [levels up]. If the estrogen's not around, or other things are causing vaginal dryness, you really need to treat it."
Vaginal rings, suppositories and creams contain estrogen that can help lubricate the vagina and restore sexual health.
Vitamin E oil can also be used to improve vaginal lubrication. Break the capsules open, or puncture it with a pin, and apply the liquid to the affected area. The capsules ensure the vitamin E is pure and sterile.
“You can use it locally in the vagina, simply by applying some of the oil directly, even if you’re not planning on having sex,” Dr. Lisa says. “But this shouldn’t be the only thing you’re trying; you should also use the lubricant of your choice during sex. Before using vitamin E capsules or estrogen replacement, consult a doctor to make sure the dryness isn't being caused by other problems, such as a yeast infection.
"And again, women," Dr. Lisa says, "you've got to use it or lose it. The vagina is a muscle. So if you keep using it, you can prevent [dryness] as you get older."