Hi everybody! Thanks for tuning in. So
this week for my VLOG I’m going to tackle the topic which doesn’t get spoken about
enough, but it is really important, and I’m doing it because I’ve received so
many emails from you guys out there asking me to do it. Because at the moment
many people are suffering in silence or are too embarrassed to actually go
forward and speak to somebody about this. And they may not have to. But even if
they do I want to convince you that it’s an important enough topic that doctors
won’t be embarrassed and can help you sort it out. So, what is it?
Vaginal dryness: so who gets vaginal dryness? Now I know immediately you’ll be
thinking of women who have gone through the menopause and you’re absolutely
right; that’s the main group of people that experience vaginal dryness. So
women over 50, normally, go through the menopause. The average age is 51 in the
UK and between the ages of 50 and 59 half of women report having vaginal
dryness and all of the problems that come with it. Thats a lot of women,
because we will all go through the menopause. But it can actually affect
women at any age and in fact 17% of women under the age of menopause, so
let’s say between ages of 18 and 50, also report having Vaginal dryness. So
that’s one in five women almost! So all added together, it’s a lot of women that
are suffering and a lot of them in silence. So let’s have a look at this
important subject. What are the causes? Well as I’ve already said, one of the
main causes is menopause. Some women however go through menopause much
younger than 51 because they have what’s called an oophrectomy: they have
their ovaries removed for various medical reasons. And they go through
menopause and suffer exactly the same symptoms as somebody who goes through it naturally, so they also suffer. Women who have just given birth or who are
breastfeeding can suffer from vaginal dryness and obviously they’ve got a lot
on their mind with the new baby, breastfeeding, sleepless nights, to have
to worry about this as well as just really almost intolerable! Women that
have had cancer and go through chemotherapy or radiotherapy can
suffer because it destroys cells in the vagina. People that have got an
underlying medical condition such as diabetes or Sjogren’s, for example, can
also suffer. Unusually, but I have seen it in my GP practice, some contraceptive
pills and injections can cause vaginalk dryness. So the combined oral
contraceptive pill and the progesterone only injection. And I have seen this. So
it is rare but it does happen. And then finally women that are trying to have
sex but for some reason are not aroused, whether that’s something within them
that’s having the problem with the sex or something with their partner. So you
know all of these things are important because it doesn’t matter what’s causing
it, it can actually cause terrible debilitating problems that are either
there all of the time, or depending on circumstance, some of the time. So what are the symptoms that are being caused by this lack of lubrication in the vagina
that’s leaving it dry? Well as I mentioned sex, let’s start there. So
discomfort during sex caused by vaginal dryness can be absolutely awful and make
the whole experience really really painful. So 25% of women between the ages of 50 and 59 report they have some sorts of dryness throughout sex that
they notice. And 16 percent of them say it’s actual pain. So that’s a lots of
women who once they get to menopause are really suffering during sex.
And the knock on effect of this is that women can experience a lack of
arousal and orgasm because they’re so focused on the fact that they might be
getting pain, because of the vaginal dryness. And also they can have a
reduced sex drive because they’re making that psychological link between the
dryness/the pain/and sex. So in the end it’s a vicious circle and they avoid sex
which is damaging to self-esteem and to relationships. Vaginal irritation,
discomfort, itching and burning is very common if you’ve got vaginal dryness and this can allow things like thrush to develop because
the Candida that causes thrush just takes over, because there isn’t the natural
lubrication of the vagina to try and stop that from happening. The skin around
the vulva and the vagina, as a result, can become very red and thin and
translucent and really fragile; so easily injured. And then once it’s injured, the
same cycle takes over, of thrush, pain, stinging, burning when you pee. Talking
about pee, you can actually have an increased frequency of urine when you’ve
got vaginal dryness and repeated urinary tract infections. Because again you
haven’t got the natural lubrication of the vagina to stop those infections
taking hold. It can even make your smear difficult to have. So that really
important smear that is really good at preventing cervical cancer, or treating
it if we catch it, which we do with the cervical smear. So that’s a great
screening program. But if you’re having difficulty having the smear because it’s
really uncomfortable to insert the speculum then you’ll avoid that smear.
And that’s dangerous for women. So you can see it has far-reaching effects. So what
do we do when those glands within the vagina are not working as well as they
should? Whether that’s for psychological, arousal
reasons, or menopause, there are answers; some of them over the counter, some of them from your doctor. So the most important thing for everybody involved is that
when you’re trying to have sex that you spend more time at the foreplay stage
rather than the penetration stage, so that you have time to try and produce
those lubrications that you need on your own, without any additional help. So
that’s the first piece of advice; speak to your partner, they need to be more
considerate and spend more time! Avoid any perfume soaps and soaps generally.
Avoid vaginal douches – all of these things change the pH in the vagina and
they actually make it worse not better. Whatever they say on the tin about
being perfect for the vagina, they’re not. You don’t need them, the vagina is a very
good self-cleaning organ. Just use water and let it do its stuff. In terms of
lubrication, you can buy lubrication over the counter and you can apply it to the
vagina, the opening to the vagina, and even to your partner. So that you
actually have extra lubrication during sex. These obviously have to be
applied just before sex, so they’re not quite so spontaneous, but they do the job
very well and there are lots available. Speak to your pharmacist and they’ll
take you through the range and if you don’t want to speak to them just find
your way to that counter and you can just have a look through all of the different
ones that are there. Then there are vagina moisturisers. Now these are
inserted in the vagina and they actually last longer than the lubricants. So they
generally moisturise the vagina for about two to three days at a time. The
good news about that is that it helps women who don’t just have this problem
during sex; the women that have this problem all of the time. And also they
take away that lack of spontaneity, because you don’t have to put it on
immediately that you’re about to have sex. You get the benefit all of the time
and you just use every two to three days. Try and pick a water-based one because
the oil-based ones can interfere with condoms and diaphragms if you are using
contraception and I’m sure you don’t want to interfere with that. Then there
are some medical treatments that you need to get from your GP, but your GP
will be very understanding because they don’t want you to suffer either and they
do see this problem all of the time. So you have vaginal oestrogens. And you get
those in the form of pills, rings, creams, that you insert into the vagina. And
small pessaries and they really are tiny, smaller than a pea. And initially you
put them in once every evening for a fortnight and after that just twice a
week. And just to reassure those people who don’t want to take HRT.
Just because it says the oestrogen, you don’t get any systemic absorption from
it. So the estimation is that if you use vaginal oestrogens for a whole year,
the equivalent absorption that you get into the body is one HRT tablet! So it’s
miniscule and won’t add up to anything at all. So you don’t have to worry. They
can work really well. After that obviously there’s HRT. And you can look
at my VLOG on HRT where i talk about the risks and
the benefits and for women between the ages of 50 and 59 NICE say the benefits
outweigh the risks. And in fact more women die not on HRT in that age bracket
than those on HRT. So that’s another solution. And then finally, if you think
the problem for you is being on the contraceptive pill or the injection,
there are a couple of solutions. So firstly if it’s the pill, speak to your
GP about trying a different pill and there are so many that we can choose
from that it might just be that you need a different brand with a different level
of oestrogen or progesterone. And in every pill the type of progesterone is
slightly different. So it’s just trial and error finding one that might be
better for you. With the injection, obviously you have to think about a
trial of stopping when your next injection is due, but with both of these things, if you decide to stop, don’t forget you’ll need a different
contraception if you don’t want to get pregnant. And your GP or your GUM
clinic can help with that. So there are lots and lots of different options in
terms of other contraception available, and there are lots of different pills
you can try and choose from as well. And then of course if none of that helps or
if you like the pill and you want to stay on it because it works for you (and
lots of women love being on the pill because it works for them) then we go
back to the vaginal lubricants or moisturisers, which you can just add in
and see if that helps with the problem. So overall hopefully I’ve shown you
today that vagina dryness is a problem that affects women of all ages, some of
them all of the time, some of them in certain circumstances. It is really
painful and it impacts on life, whether that’s through recurrent UTIs or not being
able to have sex with your partner. And that’s important – all of these things are
important. And we shouldn’t dismiss it as unimportant, because self-esteem,
relationships and actually being comfortable and not in pain are really
important. I’ve shown you that there are different solutions, it’s not a massive
amount to choose from, but that’s good because it means that you can quickly
work your way through the different solutions and find one that works for
you. And I have to encourage you to go to your GP, because we do see this problem
often, we do know what the solutions might be, and we can help you work your
way through it. And the one thing that you shouldn’t be is embarrassed with
your GP; this is what we do, this is our job and we don’t get embarrassed and we
don’t think about it, we don’t make judgments, we actually just want to help and we can help. So hopefully that’s shown you all of the
different stuff that you can do and it’s encouraged you to go and see your GP and
that’s what I really want to do. Go to Boots first if you think that you can do
it with you over counter stuff, and then after that go and see your GP and get some help. So thanks for watching, as always. If you have a topic that you want me to cover, whatever it is, please send me an email or mention in the comments afterwards and I will happily cover it. See you soon!

18 thoughts on “Vaginal Dryness and how to overcome it.”

  1. Dr Renee thanks for the great advise,my wife is 55yrs old and im 43yrs old and I love her so much.What is the best lubricant for sex my wife is a diabetic?

  2. Hi Dr.Renee, I'm 20 years old and suffer from vaginal dryness, it started right after I started birth control, I hate having sex because it hurts even with lubricant and causes tears down there, I don't know what to do, I've been to two gynecologist and they said I have to live with this. This has mad me depressed and I have no idea what to do

  3. Thank you so much doctor. But what is the best type of lubricant that doesn't effect the sperms.. I mean if I want to become pregnant

  4. hi my name is karen and i was told yesterday by my gp that i have atrophic vaginitis, now partly it could be possible its that but can that make me have 2 episodes of sepsis due to uti infections and just had another uti for the third time in 10 months and 3 times taken co amoxeclav tablets i am very drained after it all, and desperatly need some help. i have been given oestrogen creams which was too comfortable to use and i have just been given the pessary which i dont want to use because of side effects so please can you tell me if theres anything natural i can use with no oestrogen in it and also is can you tell if this diagnosis i have been given the reason for my uti infections. many thanks.

  5. thank you Dr.Renee for this very informative video..I wish it could help me for I was too devastated about my menopausal symptoms..

  6. I am 58 now and used to wonder what vaginal dryness was. Now I am experiencing periods of this and it is so uncomfortable.

  7. dr. Renee I have been to do my gynecologist since October I have been using estradiol compounded started out just a little a day I still have Major pain it's like a throbbing in my vagina it hurts most time of the evening I also have pressure in my vagina I had to move the estradiol up I have been using up to 2 gram a night and now he has me on medicine for BV but you didn't test to see if I had I've been on it before I haven't been sexual active for 6 years I have Interstitial cystitis but it's not that it's in my vagina what can I do

  8. Dr Renee I am 25 years and suffering from vaginal dryness that's why during intercourse me and my husband also feen pain in stead of feeling exotic. what can I do to overcome this horrible problem?? pls suggest me…I am in great problem dr. and I want to clear that I can't clearly understand your speaking because for me you r so much fluent speaker and I am not native speaker pls help me….. thank in advance

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