VAGINAL dryness can affect women of all ages; however, for two particular groups — menopausal and post-menopausal women — this is a common affliction which is often the source of much discomfort and sexual pain. Fortunately for most women, Medical Internist at Imani Medical Centre, Papine Plaza, Dr Samantha Nicholson said that the condition can be treated using various lubricants, including a number of natural and home remedies.
“Vaginal dryness can be described as reduced moisture, which often occurs as a result of a drop in oestrogen levels — as in the case of older women as well as in women who are breastfeeding, on medications such as birth control, or after use of personal care items such as douche, causing the vaginal tissues to become thinner and shrink [and] resulting in dryness,” Dr Nicholson explained.
She pointed out that these women, apart from the associated discomfort from dryness and the pain associated with sex, may also desire to urinate more often than usual, get urinary tract infections, often experience a drastic reduction in their sex drives, the vagina may narrow or shorten, and in some women the appearance of the vagina also changes — it takes on a thin, pale appearance and is usually accompanied by persistent and constant complaints about itching, burning and irritation.
To combat these unpleasant and annoying symptoms, Dr Keisha Buchanan, gynaecologist at ICON Medical Centre, Lady Musgrave Road, compiled a list of safe ways to lubricate naturally.
Have foods rich in phytoestrogens
If you are going to look for natural remedies to help in the management of vaginal dryness, Dr Buchanan said that your diet may be the best place to start. Since vaginal dryness is linked largely to hormonal imbalance, an increase in foods rich in phytoestrogens — such as cherries, flax seeds, and other oils, seeds, nuts, apples and celery — can help with increasing and balancing oestrogen levels.
Have foods rich in fatty acids
A diet rich in fatty acids has been linked to the production of vaginal lubrication. As such, include foods such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, as well as seeds packed with healthy fats like raw pumpkin, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds into your daily diet, since they have omega 3 fatty acids and will result in natural lubrication.
Stay well hydrated
Staying well hydrated is critical. Chronic dehydration causes many health problems, including vaginal dryness. An absence of enough water can affect the levels of vaginal secretions, blood flow and lubricity, which will result in dryness. The opposite, however, will encourage the flow of fluids in and around the lining of the vagina.
Use natural oils
There are a number of natural oils which are great lubricants that can be safely applied in and around your genitals, especially if the intention is to make the area moist for lovemaking. Some natural oils to consider are grapeseed, olive, sweet almond, sunflower or coconut, and even aloe.
Extended foreplay before sex is one other way that you can manage vaginal dryness, since this generally increases the possibility of lubrication.
Exercising regularly is important for cardiovascular activity, which can help with maintaining a healthy blood flow to the vagina. Exercising at least three times weekly for as little as 30 minutes can also help to maintain hormone balance by stimulating the adrenal glands and ovaries.
Avoid artificial personal care items
Over-cleaning the vagina, especially while using artificial products and chemicals such as scented soaps, douches, creams and chemicals such as perfumes, may disturb the body's PH and wash away protective vaginal fluids.