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It is not an unnatural occurrence – 40 percent of postmenopausal
women experience vaginal dryness and an undetermined number experience
this condition following childbirth and breast cancer. These numbers
remain a mystery, because so few women are willing to discuss this issue
with a doctor and many surveys exclude the latter two groups.
Vaginal lubrication is linked to insufficient levels of estrogen,
which tend to plummet during menopause, following pregnancy and with
treatments for breast cancer. This condition, however, is something
women should be discussing with their doctors. Vaginal dryness can be a
result of more serious conditions, such as the autoimmune disease,
Sjogren’s syndrome, or it could be caused by certain medications, like
Regardless of the cause, intercourse can become very painful. Women
may lose the desire to have sex or endure unhealthy pain in the attempt
to appease their partner. The impact on your sex life and health –mental
and physical – is significant.
There are several things women, particularly menopausal women, can do
to find relief from vaginal dryness naturally – and it comes down to
simple things you already know are important to caring for your health.
These are habits you should make a priority – vaginal dryness is a sign
that something is awry inside your body.
1. Hormone balance
Hormonal shifts can occur throughout the female lifespan, but none
are as great as the rapid, and often sudden, decline that accompanies
menopause. During perimenopause progesterone begins to decline and some
women may experience a relative increase in estrogen. When menopause
hits, however, estrogen plummets as well. Among the responsibilities of
estrogen is vaginal lubrication, which is why vaginal dryness is common
in postmenopausal women.
Hormone therapy can bring relief – restoring estrogen and
progesterone levels to normal levels can bring back the natural
mechanism that supports vaginal lubrication. Studies have shown that in
addition to treatment with the estradiol, the estrogen hormone, estriol,
is also very effective.
Eat plenty of healthy fats. Fats are essential for making hormones -
just make sure you choose the healthy ones, like mono- and
polyunsaturated fats. Good sources of these fats include walnuts,
almonds, olive oil, avocados and certain types of fish. Just remember,
fats should consume no more than 20 percent of your diet.
Keep your body hydrated. Hydration keeps the body’s mucous membranes
moist and functioning. Alternative beverages, like coffee, soda and
alcohol, dehydrate the body further. Menopausal women or women
approaching menopause, often have trouble ridding these toxic substances
from their body, furthering the effects of dehydration throughout the
body and exacerbating vaginal dryness.
4. Avoid irritants
Feminine sprays, douches and antibacterial and deodorant soaps steal
moisture from the delicate tissues of the vagina and surrounding tissue.
Choose soaps that can maintain the pH balance of the vaginal tissue.
Look for a moisturizing, hypoallergenic soap with no dyes or fragrances
that is non-alkaline and pH balanced.
There are many lubricants on the market today. Some have even been
specially formulated for menopausal women. Just be sure to choose a
water-based formula. There are also all-natural products you can use,
like extra virgin coconut oil, which offers a pleasant odor in addition
to adequate lubrication. In some cases, you may simply need to learn to
lubricate yourself – moisture can pool in the back of the vagina,
making it impossible to reach during sexual intercourse. In this
instance, you can use your finger to pull the moisture down and coat the