Vaginal Dryness: Causes, Symptoms and More

Vaginal dryness can affect any woman, however it is a common symptom experienced during the premenopausal and post-menopausal years of women. Despite the high number of women experiencing symptoms related to vaginal dryness, it is still a silent condition that many people feel embarrassed to share with their partners, friends, and even doctors.

This article will help you to understand vaginal dryness, the symptoms, causes and treatment, and allow you to approach your health care professional with confidence. It will help you to understand that you are not alone in suffering from this common condition, and encourage you to take the first steps towards regaining your sexual confidence and quality of life.

Although vaginal secretions can occur at any age, vaginal dryness is a hallmark sign of vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) – the thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to a decline in estrogen. Along with vaginal dryness, women may also experience itching and stinging around the vaginal opening and in the lower third of the vagina. Around 17% of women aged 18-50 experience problems with vaginal dryness during sex, even before the menopause takes place. 

Remember, women spend a third of their lives in a post menopausal state and they need to make sure that they maintain the quality of life that they had before the menopause. Vaginal dryness does not need to be treated as an inevitable part of growing older – something can be done about it.

vaginal dryness

What to do next

Recognising that vaginal dryness is normal and common is the first step to helping yourself. The next is to talk to your doctor, who can recommend a treatment to suit you. There are a number of effective treatments that can treat vaginal dryness easily and effectively, for example,


  • Local estrogen – this is available in the form of small tablets inserted into the vagina with an applicator, a waxy pessary, vaginal gel, creams or a vaginal creams or a vaginal ring. The ring needs to be removed and replaced every three months. Vaginal dryness can respond well to local estrogen treatments, they can also help greatly with discomfort and pain during sex, correct the vaginal pH and regulate bacteria. Unlike conventional forms of HRT, the effects are local and therefore the risks are minimal
  • DHEA – a once daily pessary containing dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Ospemifene – a tablet treatment that has an estrogen like effect in the vagina, suitable for
    some women who are not candidates for vaginal estrogen
  • Avoid perfumed soaps
  • Use creams to treat skin irritation
  • Lubricants and moisturisers can be useful, particularly for women who are not suited to estrogen replacement

Tips for talking to your doctor about vaginal dryness

Discussing vaginal dryness with a healthcare professional (HCP) can be daunting however it is often well worth it as they will be able to help. Here are a few tips to make the discussion as easy as possible:

  • Make a list of what you want to discuss
  • Discuss the most important or most difficult questions first
  • Write down what the doctor tells you
  • If there is anything that you don’t understand, ask for clarification
  • If you feel embarrassed take along some information with you. It can be difficult to discuss embarrassing problems face to face, but if you find information on the internet about your symptoms you can use this to help explain and avoid having to make eye contact with your HCP whilst discussing the problem