Vaginal dryness. Ugh. It causes itching and worrisome discomfort in your most intimate area. Though vaginal dryness is often recognized as a side effect of perimenopause or a menopausal symptom, women of all ages can experience vaginal dryness. Vaginal comfort is absolutely essential in boosting and maintaining your desire for sex. Read on for our primer about the causes and treatments for vaginal dryness, plus 5 natural ways to boost your libido through menopause.
What is vaginal dryness?
There’s a thin, moisturizing barrier in the vagina that works to moisturize the vaginal tissue. This barrier coats the walls of the vagina and provides an alkaline environment that sperm survives and travels in for sexual reproduction. This barrier also serves to lubricate the vaginal wall, thus supporting sexual intercourse for a comfortable and pleasurable experience. However, as a woman evolves in age, so does her hormonal production. This shift in hormonal production can trigger the vaginal walls to thin. With thinner vaginal walls leads to less moisture, as there are now less cells to produce moisture. Voila! Vaginal dryness!
Vaginal atrophy (scientifically known as atrophic vaginitis) is a pretty terrible medical term for when vaginal dryness is likely to occur. Typically occurring in postmenopausal women, it is the thinning, drying, and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to decreased estrogen. This can cause both vaginal and urinary discomfort, so doctors tend to call this condition genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM).
Causes of Vaginal Dryness
While dwindling estrogen levels are typically the culprit of vaginal dryness, since women produce less estrogen as they mature in their lives, low estrogen doesn’t only occur during menopause. Life after childbirth can bring on vaginal dryness. Breastfeeding can also trigger vaginal dryness. Smoking, immune disorders, and cancer treatments can all be culprits for vaginal dryness. Changed your birth control recently? Shifts in birth control can trigger dryness down there. Treatments for breast cancer and other cancer treatments can also throw off your hormones and trigger vaginal dryness. Speaking of treatments, anti-estrogen medications may be the culprit for vaginal dryness.
Do you use soaps or douches in your vaginal area and find you are feeling dry?
Try discontinuing use and see if that helps ease some of the dryness and irritation. The vagina is self-cleaning and doesn’t need hygiene products like douches to keep it fresh. Douching can actually trigger inflammation, dryness, yeast infections and even urinary tract infections.
Do you find that vaginal dryness only occurs during sexual intercourse?
Vaginal dryness can significantly impact sexual desire. Incorporating foreplay and lubrication may help increase pleasure during sexual activity.
Finally, vigorous exercise, like cycling or spin classes, can also cause some dryness and irritation.
How to treat vaginal dryness?
There are many treatment options for seeking relief. To start, finding a lubricant or lotion to nourish the dry skin in the vagina may be the answer. Lotions help because ultimately the discomfort comes from dry skin in the vagina. Much like skin anywhere else on our body, it needs TLC and nourishing moisture to create relief. Thankfully, up and coming health and wellness brand, Kindra, has targeted solutions to the most common signs of menopause. Kindra’s ph-balanced Daily Vaginal Lotion may be the answer to your dryness woes. Since it’s pH-balanced, it won’t trigger further inflammation but will instead deliver pure hydration to where it is needed most. The Kindra Daily Vaginal Lotion also comes with an applicator that delivers relief to the actual pain receptors located in the vagina, ensuring the application is easy and effective.
If you find that vaginal moisturizers are not helping, seeing a women's health professional may be the next step. They will determine other medications that may provide relief and may even suggest estrogen therapy.
Struggling with libido?
Low libido is a common part of the menopause experience—but your sex drive isn't gone forever, and even small adjustments to your routine can help you start feeling frisky again ASAP.
Start with a good night’s sleep.
Your natural circadian rhythms control hormone secretion, which means how you sleep is directly tied to how you orgasm, too. Create a nighttime routine to help your brain and body wind down for bed, starting with a regular bedtime and reasonably consistent wake-up calls, too. Avoid electronics as much as possible in the evening to eliminate the effect that blue light can have on your brain, and use blackout curtains, sound machines, earplugs, and other tools to block out light and noise once it’s time to hit the hay. Herbal reinforcements can help, too such as The Kindra Sleep Enhancing Supplement, for example, combines stress-busting Ashwagandha with antioxidant Pycnogenol® for blood flow and low-doses of melatonin to help you fall asleep faster. Its ingredients work together to reduce cortisol, keeping anxiety at bay and helping you to stay asleep through the night.
Ditch down-there dryness.
Vaginal comfort is absolutely essential in boosting and maintaining your desire for sex, so consider directly addressing dryness or pain during intercourse with a hydrating lotion. "Keeping the area moist and also letting air flow, while not stripping the moisture-producing oils, is very important to maintain or re-establish that pH balance we want to have," explains Kindra Medical advisor and LA-based OBGYN, Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz. Kindra's Daily Vaginal Lotion, which was shown to reduce pain during sex for 91% of women after just two weeks of use, offers gentle relief, soothing the sensitive tissue and making application a breeze with a uniquely effective applicator. After four weeks of regular application, 73% of vaginal lotion users report "no symptoms" of vaginal dryness—a crucial step toward feeling like your old self in the bedroom.
Stretch (and relax!) your muscles.
A regular yoga practice can strengthen the connection between your mind and body, increasing desire, arousal, and overall sexual satisfaction. Start your days with 10 minutes of sun salutations, and soon you’ll notice improved flexibility, stronger joints, and increased blood flow—which can help your heart and your lady parts. But it's not just physical benefits that link yoga to better sex. "The breathwork implemented in a yoga practice may help lessen anxiety, quiet the mind, and improve sleep quality," says fitness expert Micki Harvard. Unlocking those mental health rewards can open the door to better libido and help you find contentment in other parts of life, too.
Chase your climax solo.
Self-stimulation can be a game-changer when it comes to learning your body, especially as your sensitivity evolves. What aroused you ten years ago may not do the trick anymore, and making time for independent exploration can go a long way in increasing sexual satisfaction with a partner. "Masturbating increases blood flow, which helps support all the tissues in that area of the body," sex therapist Madeleine Castellanos tells Prevention. The practice can also reduce pain and vaginal dryness by activating natural lubricants. “Masturbation is very healthy,” Castellanos adds, “so go slow and enjoy the pleasure of exploring all areas of your body."
Get in “the” mood by boosting your mood.
The best way to take care of your sex life is to take care of yourself, a practice that often starts in your brain. Regulating the body’s levels of serotonin—known to many as the “feel-good hormone”—can temper anxiety, improve your mood, and enhance sexual desire, and there are many ways to do so naturally. A balanced diet, regular movement, and spending time out in the sunshine have all been shown to promote the mood-boosting neurotransmitter. CBD, the (federally legal) non-psychoactive chemical element in marijuana, has been shown to improve the way your body and brain react to the serotonin you already have. And if you’re suffering from mood swings or irritability, a daily dietary supplement like The Core can also help you manage stress and ease other frustrations, like hot flashes or brain fog, for a happier you.
Parting words from Kindra
Kindra is on a mission to help you prepare for, manage, and embrace your body’s natural hormonal shifts with our line of estrogen-free essentials. Everything we do is by women, science-backed, safe and estrogen-free and community driven. If you’re feeling called to learn more about what Kindra products are right for you, take our quiz. Interested in learning more about our brand? We’d love to chat! Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to joining you during your better half.
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