What’s one topic that we rarely talk about with our girlfriends, significant others, or even our gynecologists? Got an idea? I’ll give you a hint. It’s something that ALL women experience but keep on the hush hush. Okay, I’ll share one more hint. The topic is sometimes called the “the last menopause taboo.” Have you figured it out yet? If not, I’ll tell you what it is, but you have to promise to keep reading.
The topic that I’m referring to is vaginal dryness and it’s easily one of the least talked about experiences among women. We’d rather talk about hot flashes, night sweats, and even bladder leaks, but we won’t talk about when our sacred lady parts get a little dry.
What’s Up With My…Vagina?
Normally, the walls of our vagina stay lubricated in order to keep the lining of our precious lady parts healthy, thick, and flexible. When the waterfalls are running, we feel confident, empowered, and doing the do is easy peasy. However, when the lake becomes a little dry, getting it on can be difficult and sometimes even painful. It makes us want to curl into a ball and hide. You probably want to grab your hair and scream (or whisper), “what is going on!?”
Truth is, our lady parts naturally go through these phases and changes. Sometimes these changes are the vagina’s way of saying “hey best friend, look down here!”
If you’re experiencing some dryness, it’s normal to feel embarrassed, but you should also know that your experience is not uncommon. In fact, 50 percent of postmenopausal women experience dryness and 17 percent of all women aged 18 to 50 experience it too.
The Changes Associated With Menopause
When estrogen levels begin to drop during menopause, women begin experiencing a lot of changes to their vagina. Some of those changes include thinning, inflammation, and dryness, which is often referred to as vaginal atrophy. When there is a lack of estrogen and moisture, it can interrupt the vaginal ecosystem. This disruption can cause UTI’s, bacterial vaginosis, thrush, and more.
But There Are Other Factors Too
Estrogen can rain on your parade even when you’re not going through menopause. Are you stressed out? What about taking the pill? Have you just had a baby? Each one of those scenarios can cause estrogen depletion and temporary vaginal dryness.
Certain medications, like antihistamines, can cause dryness too. Who knew that trying to combat allergies and stop snot from running out your nose could dry everything else out too? Turns out, while estrogen can increase your libido, antihistamines deplete it.
And then sometimes it’s just the products you use. Certain detergents, soaps, perfumes, and hygiene products make everything dry. Other times you just might not be turned on.
Being Hushed About Vaginal Dryness Could Make It Worse
Isn’t it interesting how our lady parts will tell us when things aren’t right? It’ll always give us some kind of indication when it’s not feeling something. If a guy isn’t that great, it’s like “boringgggg.” When something feels a little off, it’s like “pay attention to me.” Our vaginas don’t really hold back. Which honestly leads me to ask, why should we hold back?
When things don’t feel right, we should seek guidance from our gynecologist. It’s totally okay to ask, “what’s up with my vagina?”, so you can figure out how to correct it. Is it comfortable? Nope! Is it a teeny bit embarrassing? Sure is! But the risks associated with saying nothing are far greater than when we speak up.
You can absolutely snap back from vaginal dryness, but first you have to know what’s causing it. And check out our article on how to treat vaginal dryness.
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By Jessica Thomas, MPH