As if there weren’t already enough unpleasant side effects of aging, one we rarely talk about (even with our doctors!) is the vaginal dryness that occurs after the age of 45 or 50. We know that lower levels of estrogen cause the skin on our face and body to lose its suppleness and elasticity. The same thing happens in the walls of the vagina with the onset of menopause. Read on for more information about female dryness, what causes it, and what you can do about it.
Normally, the walls of the vagina stay moist and lubricated with a thin layer of clear liquid. That liquid keeps the walls thick, healthy, and elastic. The drop in estrogen levels reduces the amount of moisture available in the walls and the reverse effects set in; the vagina wall becomes thin and loses its elasticity. Vaginal atrophy is the result. As many of you know, that dryness can be extremely painful. Itching and burning aren’t unusual and neither is painful intercourse. In fact, even riding a bike or jogging can be uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, ignoring vaginal dryness in the hopes it will just go away won’t do the trick. And it opens the door to bigger issues. First, vaginal dryness makes normal activities like going for a run or bike ride or having sex, uncomfortable or downright painful. A dry vagina has less elasticity, thinner surrounding tissue, and a higher likelihood of infections, itchiness, irritation, and odor. It can also make arousal tricky, and it can make a woman feel ashamed or older than her years.
Many women over age 40 assume that vaginal dryness is just part of the journey. But while perimenopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats will eventually go away – thank goodness – vaginal dryness doesn’t work that way. It’s not automatically related to menopause, which means figuring out the real culprit is an important first step. These three tips will help you do just that.
If you aren’t already on the clean beauty train, it’s time to hop on. Dermal absorption is one of the fastest pathways to exposure of potentially dangerous ingredients, and genital areas in particular have a 100 percent absorption rate.
Not only does what we use on our bodies end up in our bodies, but it can also wreak havoc along the way. The vagina is truly its own ecosystem with a delicate pH balance that is easily upset by things like harsh additives, artificial dyes and fragrances, allergens, and other questionable ingredients commonly found in mainstream beauty and intimate care products.
Becoming savvy about reading labels, and recognizing which ones actually mean something, is the best way to start reducing your body’s toxin load. Anything that comes into contact with your skin and vagina – including the detergent you use on your clothing, tampons and pads, soaps, and personal lubricants – should be carefully vetted to ensure that you aren’t inadvertently exposing yourself to known irritants.
Once you have a handle on the stuff you’re putting on the outside, it’s time to consider what you’re eating. Surprised? Turns out, food is one of the easiest ways to fix vaginal dryness naturally and promote vaginal health as a whole.
You’ve heard about the benefits of probiotics for gut health, but the active cultures in foods like yogurt and kimchi are great at helping to fend off things like yeast infections and maintaining a healthy pH level. Avocados are another beneficial food. You love it on your morning toast, but the avocado’s healthy fats, potassium, and vitamin B-6 are important for enhancing lubrication and estrogen levels, not to mention strengthening vaginal walls.
And then there good ol’ leafy greens. With its dietary nitrates, this trusty veggie group helps purify the blood and enhance circulation, which can help combat vaginal dryness and increase stimulation.
Reducing exposure to harmful ingredients and improving your diet can help prevent vaginal dryness down the road, but what about fixing your dry vagina right this second? You’ll want to opt for a natural lubricant.
These lubricants are the most common and are available in two varieties: those that contain glycerine and those that do not. They’re both generally cost-effective and easy to find; however, you may want to try ones that do not contain glycerine. That’s because lubricants that have glycerine have a shorter shelf life and may cause yeast infections due to their sugar content.
This natural water-based sexual lubricant is great for sensitive skin. It doesn’t contain parabens or glycerin — only natural ingredients with a discreet label. This brand also has a few other options available, like an aloe vera version for extra-sensitive skin!
This water-based personal lubricant is made from carrageenan, aloe, vitamin E, agave inulin, and citric acid to moisturize, balance pH levels, and boost tissue health. The Natural gel changes from gel to moisturizing lubricant when warmed up to your body temperature.
Here are some other natural sexual wellness brands that you may want to explore:
There are plenty of products out there that not only help with female dryness but contain other ingredients to help make sex more pleasurable. Rosebud Woman’s Arouse Stimulating Serum invites natural lubrication, plumps, and tingles the labia.
A dry vagina is a symptom of a bigger issue, whether it’s related to irritating toxins, insufficient fat in the diet, or problematic commercial lubricants. It’s not simply a part of growing older, and no woman should have to deal with the physical or self-esteem issues it can cause.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. Chat with your doctor or physician if you’re experiencing female dryness.
Related Article: As if hot flashes, mood swings, and weight fluctuations aren’t enough, menopause can also toss hormonal acne our way. Can anything be done to prevent it or stop it in its tracks? Learn more about hormonal acne during menopause, what causes it, and possible treatments you can try.
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