Vaginal Dryness in Perimenopause & Menopause

woman experiencing vaginal dryness discomfort due to perimenopause

You may be surprised to learn that menopause is a long process that can last up to 10 years and begin in your late 30’s – or earlier if you’ve had your ovaries or uterus removed. As your body gradually produces less estrogen and moves past the fertile years, your vagina and vulva change and you may experience vaginal dryness and painful intercourse.

These changes are natural but can be quite uncomfortable. Understanding what is happening with your body and what you can do to help relieve the dryness will help.

A Lack of Vaginal Lubrication is Common in Perimenopause

First off, menopause means the “cessation of menses” or the time when your menstrual periods cease. The time leading up to when you no longer have any bleeding is known as perimenopause. You may be experiencing perimenopausal symptoms and not yet know it.

Changes in your sex drive as well as vaginal and vulvar dryness are common but lesser known symptoms you may have during the years surrounding menopause. Menopause-related vaginal dryness happens due to lower vaginal secretions and increased vaginal pH as your body produces less and less estrogen.

Vaginal Dryness Symptoms around Menopause

The vagina is an ever-changing biome and things like pregnancy, breastfeeding, medications, and even stress can affect its pH and lubrication level. It's about estrogen levels, so as you enter perimenopause, vaginal dryness is more common. Here’s what it might feel like:

Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness

  • Feeling sore or itchy internally or around your vaginal opening
  • Feeling sore or itchy on your vulva, labia, or vagina lips
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Needing to pee more than usual
  • Frequent or increased urinary tract infections
  • A feeling of burning during intercourse or any time

Since these symptoms can also be symptoms of a vaginal infection or an underlying medical condition besides perimenopause, it’s best to see your doctor to learn your specific situation.

Perimenopause, Your Sex Drive & Painful Intercourse

As you near menopause, you may find that your sex drive fades or that it goes into hyperdrive. When you’re ready to have sex, you want it to be enjoyable. Lower levels of estrogen, decreased vaginal fluids, and a higher vaginal pH can all lead to difficulty reaching climax and increased friction and pain during sex.

As you age, your vagina walls can also get thinner and less supple and the vagina can become narrower and shorter – especially without regular penetrative sex. These changes can make sex even more painful and undesirable, which can, in turn, be hard on you and relationships.

The good news: you don’t have to suffer silently. There are things you can do to help relieve vaginal dryness and improve lubrication during intercourse.

Remedies for Vaginal Dryness in Peri- and Post-Menopause

Your doctor may recommend an estrogen-based topical cream or vaginal insert to help relieve the dryness and combat vaginal atrophy. Any estrogen-based treatment can also comes with risks, typically of increased blood clots, stroke, or cancer, especially if you have a family history of breast or endometrial cancer.

You can also use an estrogen-free vaginal moisturizer and a personal lubricant prior to sex to enhance comfort and ease.

Do’s and Don’ts to Help Relieve Vaginal Dryness

If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, avoid douching, perfume-based soaps or washes around your vagina, and any type of moisturizer not made for the vagina. Diuretics, such as alcohol and caffeine can also increase vaginal dryness. So can smoking as well as using antihistamines.

To help relieve vaginal dryness, drink plenty of water, increase your foreplay prior to sex to get more aroused, use a water-based lubricant, use only unscented soaps and washes around your vagina, and choose a vaginal moisturizer that provides everyday relief.

Replens™ vaginal moisturizers provide an immediate, hormone-free solution to vaginal dryness. With improved vaginal lubrication, you can enjoy intercourse, even into your 80’s and 90’s.