Updated 21 July 2014

10 quick facts on vaginal dryness

Hormonal changes associated with aging and menopause may affect the lining of the vaginal walls leading to dryness and discomfort.

Hormonal changes associated with aging and menopause may affect the lining of the vaginal walls leading to dryness and discomfort.

Here are 10 facts you should know.

  • Menopause occurs when the ovaries no longer produce oestrogen and progesterone, two necessary hormones for a woman's reproductive cycle to function.

  • Though it naturally occurs with age, menopause may also develop suddenly as a result of a surgical procedure, treatment of a disease, or illness. In these cases it is referred to as induced menopause.

  • When menopause occurs naturally, it tends to take place anywhere between the ages of 40 and 58, with an average age of 51. But for some women it can occur as early as the late 30s, or as late as their 60s. Just as the age that menstruation begins is genetically predetermined, so is menopause.

  • For many women who enter menopause, their menstrual cycle becomes irregular and then stops and they don't have any other symptoms1. But, for others, the decreasing levels of oestrogen associated with menopause may cause more distressing symptoms that include mood swings; decreased sex drive; hot flushes; sweating; racing heart and palpitations; headaches; vaginal dryness and soreness; trouble sleeping. These symptoms can last from a few months to up to 10 years.

  • During menopause, the epithelial lining and the underlying tissues of the vaginal wall may become thinner and less elastic – a condition known as atrophy. This is due to decreased oestrogen and can lead to vaginal dryness.

  • Up to 44% of women between the ages of 40 and 59 in menopause or post-menopausal stages experience vaginal dryness. After age 60, 70% of women experience vaginal dryness.

  • The following factors place women at greater risk of developing dryness of the vagina: lack of regular sexual stimulation of the vagina; premature menopause; or a history of temporary amenorrhoea (missed periods).

  • There are no specific tests available to determine whether the vaginal wall has become thinner or less elastic. A careful physical examination, including a pelvic examination, is necessary to rule out other conditions (such as infections) that may be causing vaginal symptoms.

  • The vagina can also become further irritated by soaps, laundry detergents, lotions, perfumes, or douches. Certain medications, smoking, tampons, and condoms may also cause or worsen vaginal dryness.

  • Local (vaginal) oestrogen treatments such as tablets or creams can be very effective in reducing vaginal dryness while having a minimal effect on other tissues in the body.

  • Oestrogen tablets, which are inserted internally via a single use applicator provide an easy-to-use, clean and virtually leak-free way to treat vaginal dryness. They are available at pharmacies without a prescription.


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