Has sex been giving you more discomfort than pleasure lately? Do you experience pain, irritation, burning or dryness? Is there bleeding or spotting during or after sex?

If there is, then you might be experiencing vaginal dryness.

For this condition, you may need to speak with a female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (FPMRS) physician for help. At Advanced Urology Institute, we have FPMRS physicians at our Fort Myers center to ensure you get prompt attention from a location near you.

But first, what is vaginal dryness?

Vaginal dryness refers to a persistent irritating, burning, or itching sensation in the vagina. It is due to inadequate vaginal moisture that makes it feel too dry or too tight. The condition is more noticeable during sexual intercourse as it results in pain and discomfort.

What causes vaginal dryness?

Vaginal dryness, also called vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis, is a low-estrogen disorder. Estrogen, a hormone produced by your ovaries, helps keep the vulva and vagina moist and pliant.

But after menopause, hysterectomy, or breast cancer treatment, the levels of estrogen tend to drop. As a result, your vaginal skin changes and may become uncomfortably dry.

Vaginal dryness may be triggered by:

  • Childbirth and breastfeeding
  • Treatments for cancer, including radiation and chemotherapy
  • Menopause
  • Surgical menopause—removal of surgery for any reason
  • Anti-estrogen drugs for endometriosis or breast cancer
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines, like diphenhydramine
  • Sjogren’s syndrome

This condition can adversely impact your sexual health and even your daily life. Without normal lubrication levels, sex may become painful.

In some cases, vaginal tearing and bleeding may occur. Furthermore, irritation and itching can be frequent, and you may have an increased risk of vaginal infections.

What are the symptoms of vaginal dryness?

  • Vaginal itching, burning sensation, and irritation
  • Reduced levels of natural vaginal secretions
  • Tightening of vaginal opening
  • Narrowing of vagina
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue and mood changes
  • Memory problems
  • Insomnia
  • Acne
  • Urinary symptoms

Diagnosis of vaginal dryness

Your urogynecologist will diagnose vaginal dryness based on your medical history and a physical exam.

To establish the cause, the female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (FPMRS) physician will ask you about your symptoms and any medications you are taking.

The doctor may further conduct a pelvic exam to check if your vaginal tissue is thin and dry due to declining estrogen levels. A blood test may also be needed to check your hormone levels and bring out other medical issues responsible for your condition.

How is vaginal atrophy treated?

Your urogynecologist might recommend that you use vaginal moisturizers. The moisturizer is applied every few days to moisturize and keep your vaginal tissues healthy. You may also be recommended the use of vaginal lubricants to relieve pain during intercourse.

Regular sexual activity or vaginal stimulation can also help you to maintain healthy vaginal tissues after menopause.

Alternatively, your urogynecologist may prescribe a low-dose vaginal estrogen cream, ring or tablet. When you apply it, the estrogen-based product re-invigorates your vaginal tissues.

A selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) medication may also be given to relieve painful intercourse associated with vaginal atrophy.

Your doctor may also recommend that you use a nightly vaginal suppository, like dehydro-epiandrosterone (DHEA), to ease painful intercourse once you reach menopause.

Why Advanced Urology Institute?

At Advanced Urology Institute (AUI), we offer female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery services that respond to our patients’ needs.

We understand that speaking with a doctor about issues regarding the vagina is not easy for many women, so we have established a compassionate and personalized approach to caring for these sensitive issues, allowing women to speak freely about their problems.

When you come to our Fort Myers clinic, expect to meet a friendly female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (FPMRS) physician who is ready to listen to you.

Why not make an appointment with one of our urogynecologists today and start your recovery journey.

For more information about vaginal dryness, vaginal discomfort, and pain during intercourse, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.