Paula Di Marco Young is a registered nurse and the CEO of VSPOT in Philadelphia. In today’s conversation, she walks us through potential causes and treatments for vaginal dryness.
It’s no longer taboo to talk about issues that affect a woman’s sexual wellness, as most of the time these “issues” don’t just affect a woman’s sexual experience”. They can also have serious health implications such as irritation, bleeding, infection, tissue tears, as well as psychological and emotional stress. Vaginal dryness can be painful, cause a burning sensation or itching, it can interfere with your sexual relationship with your partner, it can lead to anxiety and depression. Some women are embarrassed to talk to their doctors about any type of sexual dysfunction and, therefore, these symptoms go untreated for years.
WHAT CAUSES VAGINAL DRYNESS?
There are many different reasons why a woman’s vagina can stop producing adequate lubrication. We immediately go to the main known culprits of aging and menopause due to low estrogen, but did you also know it can be caused by excessive douching, childbirth, immune disorders, certain medications, depression, smoking, excessive exercise, chemotherapy, and even breastfeeding? The first step in treating vaginal dryness is to perform a physical examination of the vaginal lining to determine the integrity of the tissue and to look for any other abnormalities such as lacerations, infections, scar tissue, or thinning skin. After examination, treatment options vary depending on the severity of the dryness and the age of the patient.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
If you are concerned about dryness and are only bothered by it during sexual intercourse, topical lubricants and vaginal creams can help if they are applied immediately before intercourse. Vaginal moisturizing products are a different category because they are applied two to three times per week and they can last for days. This is an optimal choice for those who don’t want to stop during lovemaking to apply a lubricant, plus they can treat the other symptoms women experience on a daily basis that have nothing to do with intercourse. There are many different brands of vaginal moisturizers on the market today which verifies the fact that women are speaking up and are taking control of their bodies, encouraging personal care companies to produce products to treat everyday issues women have been silently dealing with.
WHAT ABOUT MENOPAUSAL VAGINAL DRYNESS?
When menopause hits, vaginal dryness is not the only symptom women suffer from. The beginning of hormone therapy can help with these symptoms. There are different types of hormone therapies such as creams, pills, and pellets which are inserted under your skin. Some of these products are synthetic and some are natural (plant-based). When seeking out hormone replacement therapy (HRT) it is best to seek multiple opinions with different medical providers who specialize in HRT to find the right solution for you and your health care needs.
WHAT ELSE CONTRIBUTES TO VAGINAL DRYNESS?
Hydration, nutrition, and diet can all be contributing factors to not only dryness experienced in your vagina, but also everywhere in your body including your skin. There is some research which states that the use of probiotics can also assist in the normal flora of not only the gut but of the vagina as well. Again, there are a variety of probiotics available and the advice of your primary care physician is warranted especially if you are taking other medications.
WHAT TREATMENT OPTIONS DOES VSPOT OFFER?
As with any medical condition, there are various levels of treatments from mild, which we have already discussed, to severe. At VSPOT Philadelphia we offer more permanent and intense treatments for vaginal dryness such as resurfacing the vaginal lining with a fractional CO2 laser called the FemiLift™. The FemiLift™ makes tiny little holes in the vaginal lining which causes the body to produce new skin cells naturally. Typically, one to three treatments are required for optimal results. This is sometimes supplemented with the application of platelet-rich plasma which is derived from a patient’s own blood. Platelet-rich plasma contains multiple growth factors and when applied to the vaginal lining, especially after CO2 laser treatment, it encourages new tissue to grow which is rich in blood vessels and nerve endings. The result can be a smooth, pink and lubricated vaginal canal with heightened sensation. This combination of treatments is also beneficial for women who suffer from vaginal laxity.
If you suffer from vaginal dryness feel confident in knowing that there are multiple treatment options for you. There’s no need to suffer in silence any longer.
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