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drynessIt's something that affects four out of five women during and after menopause and might put the brakes on your sex life. It's also a taboo subject for many women who think that vaginal dryness is just part of getting older, but it doesn't have to be.

The primary cause of vaginal dryness is less estrogen production, but some of our habits can make the problem worse.  Using soap to wash your inner vulva can irritate the tissue there. Clean water works just as well, and skip the scented or colored toilet paper that can also cause irritation.

Laundry detergents with dyes or perfumes can make underwear a source of irritation. Likewise, say “no” to bubble baths or douches that can also cause more vaginal dryness.

Good hydration plays a role in preventing dryness all over your body. Cold winter weather doesn't mean you need less water each day. Heated indoor air can be drier, so keep drinking plenty of water. You can also get more water in your system with “warm up” winter foods like soups and stews.

An over-the-counter lubricant designed for vaginal use can make sex less painful. Having vaginal intercourse may be a solution for dryness because it can help keep the vaginal tissues soft and stretchable and prevent them from shrinking.

Maybe you've changed your hygiene and laundry habits. You keep the water bottle handy and you've tried a lubricant, but you still need more help with vaginal dryness. Now it's time to talk with your doctor about a number of treatments that are available.

Ospemifene (sold under the brand name Osphena) is a non-estrogen medication taken as a pill that can reverse certain changes in vaginal tissue caused by menopause. It is not recommended for women with a history of heart attack, stroke, or blood clot, unusual vaginal bleeding or any type of breast, uterine, or hormone-dependent cancer.

Estrogen creams, tablets and vaginal rings can be used to treat vaginal dryness and are thought to be safe even for long-term use. If you have a history of breast cancer, talk to your healthcare provider or oncologist about the potential risks and benefits of vaginal estrogen.

Whichever method you choose, the solution starts in that conversation with your doctor. Vaginal dryness doesn't have to diminish your life and no woman should suffer in silence.

 

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax