Vaginal dryness may be a problem for women at any age, although it occurs more frequently in older women, particularly after menopause.
Reduced estrogen levels are the main cause of vaginal dryness. Estrogen, a female hormone, helps keep vaginal tissue healthy by maintaining normal vaginal lubrication, tissue elasticity and acidity. Other causes of vaginal dryness include certain medical conditions or hygiene practices.
Estrogen levels can fall for a number of reasons:
- Cigarette smoking
- Effects on your ovaries from cancer therapy
- Immune disorders
- Perimenopause (the transition time before menopause)
- Oophorectomy (ovary removal surgery)
- Use of anti-estrogen medication
Other causes of vaginal dryness include:
- Sjogren's syndrome
- Use of allergy and cold medications
When to see a doctor
Vaginal dryness affects many women, although they frequently don't bring up the topic with their doctors.
If vaginal dryness affects your lifestyle, in particular your sex life and relationship with your partner, consider making an appointment with your doctor. Living with uncomfortable vaginal dryness doesn't have to be part of getting older.