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Vaginal Dryness

Women may complain of vaginal dryness during the years that precede the menopause (no menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months) or also report symptoms of a dry vagina as a result of a variety of medical conditions. Women typically stop having their menstrual cycle at age 51. Hormonal shifts that occurring during the perimenopause (time before the menopause (which may be up to 10 years before the stopping of menstruation), the post partum period with exclusive breastfeeding, or even with the chronic use of the oral contraceptive pills, may all be  associated with vaginal dryness. Some medications, including anti histamines which many women take for seasonal allergies, may also cause vaginal dryness.

Women with vaginal dryness complain of inadequate lubrication and may present with decreased sexual arousal and painful intercourse or dyspareunia.

Vaginal dryness is often diagnosed by a pelvic examination with the use of a speculum examination. During the examination, your health care professional may do a vaginal pH test. A vaginal pH test is when a small piece of paper is placed within the vagina and it changes colors after recording the acid-base balance of the vagina. The normal vagina pH is typically between 3.8 and 4.5 and an elevated pH greater than 4.5 may indicate vaginal dryness. Visual inspection is also important and a smear may also indicate a shift in cells, if your vaginal lining is severely dry.

There are many methods to treat vaginal dryness, including over the counter vaginal moisturizers and lubricants. Medical treatment includes the prescription use of local estrogens, which may come in a variety of formulations. Some popular formulations include: vaginal creams like Estrace® (estradiol cream) or Premarin Vaginal Cream® (conjugated equine estrogen). Others include vaginal tablets called vagifem® (17 beta estradiol) and the vaginal ring Estring® (vaginal estradiol ring). It is always best to ask your health care professional what is the best treatment plan for your individualized condition and medical situation.

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Symptoms

Read more about symptoms affecting the vulva and vagina that may be causing discomfort or pain.

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Disorders

Read more about vulvar and vaginal disorders that affect women and their quality of life.

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