WHO NEEDS VAGINAL DRYNESS CREAM
That’s right - dry skin can occur down there, too! Let’s talk about one of the most common symptoms of menopause and how vaginal dryness cream can counteract it.
It’s 2022 and the vagina is still one of the most taboo topics of conversation; so much so that most women don’t talk about it until it’s time for a check-up or to go shopping for their daughter’s first tampon. From age 8 in rare cases to 50 and beyond, the female body experiences constant changes, especially when it comes to the vagina. It can be exhausting to say the least. But what happens when the tissues of your vagina become completely dry? Enter vaginal dryness cream.
What Is Vaginal Dryness?
We’re glad you asked!
Vaginal dryness occurs when vaginal tissue is not well lubricated. It is a common issue that approximately 1 in 3 women will face during their lifetime. It can happen at any age (usually between 18 years and 50 years) and can be very painful. Most women will notice their first signs of vaginal dryness as they go through “the change”.
Vaginal dryness is one of the most common symptoms of menopause, also known as “the change”. In fact, it becomes even more aggressive once this transition begins.
What is menopause?
Well, put simply, menopause is the process every woman goes through that marks the end of her childbearing years. On average, this is between the ages of 51 and 52 for women in the United States. The ovaries gradually slow down and menstrual cycles eventually cease. It is not a disease, but rather a turning point that is self-diagnosable and can have a big impact on a woman's entire well-being. Symptoms can affect the body, hair, sleep, and the menstrual cycle all at once. A few common side effects include:
Ever heard your mother, aunt, sister, or wife say their body feels like it’s burning up from the inside out? I know I have. If so, they are likely describing this menopause symptom. It is the most common and a brief feeling of intense heat that can cause the face and chest to become flushed and temporary red blotches to appear on the chest, back, and arms. I’ve also heard my relatives describe feeling sweaty and chilly, almost like they have the flu but worse. These uncomfortable experiences usually last between 30 seconds and 10 minutes and, collectively, are called vasomotor symptoms, or VMS.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night to drenched sleepwear and bedding? If you’re going through menopause or perimenopause (more on that later), then this is likely why. This symptom is similar to the previously mentioned sweaty feeling, but primarily happens during late hours of the night, disturbing sleep. It is brought on by low or changing levels of vaginal estrogen in particular.
Unlike most signs of menopause, night sweats are not exclusive to women. This is because it is also a sign of other health concerns, like colds, bacterial infections, hormonal diseases, panic disorder, and more. Though it is popularly known as the female hormone, males are also able to produce estrogen.
Alternatively, a smaller percentage of those going through “the change” can also experience intense chills and shivers, also known as cold flashes. This is due to the fluctuation of hormones during menopause and perimenopause that can cause the hypothalamus to become dysfunctional.
Once this part of the brain is no longer working properly, it can become difficult for the hypothalamus to regulate body temperature, resulting in hot flashes and cold flashes. Sometimes, a cold flash can rise as a hot flash is fading away, causing you to feel hot and cold like you have the flu.
As I mentioned before, a woman’s menstrual cycle changes as menopause approaches. Because every woman is different, each small change will differ as well; not every one is guaranteed to happen at the same time or at all. Periods may get shorter or longer, heavier or lighter, and with more or less time between periods.
And finally, our main topic of discussion. In addition to the slowing down of the ovaries, menopause is also brought on by a decrease in estrogen levels. In females, estrogen helps to develop and maintain the reproductive system and other specific characteristics such as breasts. Once the female body is producing less vaginal estrogen, it is susceptible to dryness, itching, and irritation. This can lead to discomfort and painful intercourse.
Vaginal dryness can start for a variety of other reasons as well.
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
Also a normal, natural phase of a woman’s life, perimenopause occurs just before menopause does. During this time, the ovaries produce less vaginal estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Menstrual periods become irregular as well.
Perimenopause usually happens between the ages of 40 and 50. Once a woman has gone without having a period for 12 months in a row, the transition from perimenopause and menopause has been made.
This autoimmune disorder attacks the cells in the body that produce wetness. The glands that help produce tears, saliva, and vaginal moisture become inflamed, reducing the production of moisture in vaginal tissues and causing the main symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome - dry eyes and dry mouth - to develop.
Sjogren’s Syndrome most commonly affects women and the most common side effects are loss of vaginal moisture and, eventually, vaginal dryness.
ALLERGY + COLD MEDICATIONS
Have you noticed your vagina is dryer when you’re trying to get rid of a cold? Probably not after all the coughing, sneezing, Nyquil, and using questionable amounts of tissue paper, but it does happen.
This is because of the role antihistamines play in allergy medications. The goal is to prevent the effects of histamine. In response to allergens, histamines help to rid the body of allergy triggers through things like mucus, and antihistamines are supposed to dry up the mucus membranes that cause a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. However, antihistamines can also affect these membranes in the vagina, causing vaginal dryness.
Similarly, these kinds of medications can also have adverse effects. In addition to inhibiting other sexual functions such as lower libido, difficulty becoming aroused, and anorgasmia (the inability to achieve orgasm), antidepressants can also cause vaginal dryness. A class of antidepressants known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, can decrease the amount of natural vaginal lubricants.
A popular method in recent years, douching is when you wash or clean out the inside of the vagina with water and apple cider vinegar, baking soda, or iodine. These mixtures usually come in a prepackaged bottle or bag, are squirted upward through a tube or nozzle, and come back down through the vagina.
Many women and teens douche because they believe doing so has health benefits, though no study has concluded any such benefits. Instead, douching has unsurprisingly been linked to several health problems, including vaginal infections, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy complications.
A LACK OF FOREPLAY
Never underestimate the power of great foreplay!
Moisture is crucial to keep from having painful intercourse, whether that be through vaginal moisture, vaginal lubricants, or both. If you’re feeling dry down there during sex, it’s likely because you are not sexually aroused. To up the ante, allow more time to become fully relaxed and aroused before entering the bedroom, either by yourself or with your partner(s).
You should also try a vaginal dryness cream like the Carioca Feminine Moisturizer by La Maria. Vulvar and vaginal creams help to increase moisture in the vulva and vagina. They also help to improve the quality of vaginal tissues. The Carioca Feminine Moisturizer is a silky, naturally-derived cream that relieves irritation and dryness while soothing, calming, and restoring intimate tissue at the same time. Infused with a powerful blend of estrogen-mimicking plant nutrient compounds, this vaginal moisturizer maintains wetness after daily use.
If you’ve ever experienced vaginal dryness, then you’ve likely also had what is called vaginal atrophy. Also known as atrophic vaginitis, this condition makes the walls of the vagina thinner and less elastic. In addition, drying and inflammation can occur.
What Does Vaginal Dryness Look Like?
Normally, the vaginal walls remain lubricated with a thin layer of fluid. This fluid is called vaginal discharge. It is a combination of a clear or whitish liquid, cells, and bacteria produced by vaginal cells and the cervix to protect the vagina. It is perfectly normal for this type of discharge to possess a subtle scent that is not unpleasant in smell and changes over the course of a woman's menstrual cycle. Such changes include thickness and color, and are associated with ovulation. A hormone called estrogen also helps to keep vaginal lining healthy, thick, and elastic.
However, once estrogen levels begin to drop, the availability of this moisture also decreases. Like vaginal dryness, low vaginal estrogen levels can occur at any age for any number of reasons outside of menopause. These include (but are not limited to):
- CHILDBIRTH + BREASTFEEDING
- ANTI-ESTROGEN MEDICATIONS
- RADIATION OR CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENT
- SURGICAL REMOVAL OF THE OVARIES
Vaginal dryness may seem like a minor irritation, but a lack of moisture in the area can have huge effects on one’s sex life. Fortunately, several treatments are available to relieve it.
TOPICAL ESTROGEN THERAPY
If you are experiencing vaginal dryness because you have low estrogen levels, then topical estrogen therapy might be for you.
The goal of these medications is to help supplement a bit of the estrogen hormone that your body is no longer making naturally. Three of the most popular vaginal estrogen replacements are the Estring Ring, the Vagifem Tablet, and Premarin cream. All have their respective side effects and are not recommended for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a history of breast and/or endometrial cancers, or have unexplained vaginal bleeding.
VAGINAL DRYNESS CREAMS
If you do not wish to go the hormone replacement route, then the only other solution is a vaginal moisturizer.
There are several types on the market with various bases (water, oil, etc.), but the only one we recommend is La Maria’s Carioca Feminine Moisturizer. Its naturally-derived, OB/GYN formulated, free of vaginal irritants, closely replicates a natural feeling of hydration after regular use, and works with your body to restore healthy skin.
Dr. Manuela Maria Vazquez
In 2021, Dr. Manuela Maria Vazquez, OB/GYN and founder of La Maria, launched her luxury brand dedicated to feminine wellness. She refused to prescribe products filled with unnatural chemicals, unproven ingredients, and harmful taboos any longer. She also wanted to create something for her patients that would complement and celebrate the natural hormonal changes that occur throughout their lives. Though the majority of this sector of the industry still treats vaginal dryness as a disease state, skin changes are normal, and Vazquez wanted to help more women embrace that. Three years prior, she began researching ingredients that would be able to boost vaginal moisture naturally. One effective ingredient she found were phytoestrogens, plant-based, estrogen-mimicking compounds that have been shown in studies to attach to the estrogen receptors in the skin and copy its effects.
In addition to its effectiveness in vaginal moisturizers, phytoestrogen can also be used to increase collagen production, hyaluronic acid production, and elastin production. They can also be found in Vazquez’s second and final product, the Mineira Phytoestrogen-Infused Face Moisturizer.
According to Women’s Health, over half of post-menopausal women ages 51 through 60 are affected by vaginal dryness. No matter its cause, vaginal dryness can be an extremely painful experience. Any burning, itching, or discomfort in the area is worth a call to your doctor. If you believe you might be experiencing vaginal dryness, please contact a gynecologist. They will conduct a pelvic exam to help rule out any other possible cause, including a vaginal or urinary tract infection.
Aging is a part of all of our journeys. Why not feel like you while you do it? Click here to try the entire La Maria phytoestrogen-infused collection and change how you think about aging.