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Vaginal Dryness During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

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Vagina dryness during pregnancy or postpartum is common. The vagina is an elastic and muscular canal with a soft and flexible lining, and it remains lubricated and moist due to the estrogen hormone produced during pregnancy. A drop in hormonal estrogen levels could cause shrinkage and thinness of vaginal tissues, therefore causing dryness and inflammation in the vagina. Certain lifestyle factors could also increase the risk of vaginal dryness that is manageable (1) (2) (3).

Read on to understand the triggers, associated symptoms, and ways to manage vaginal dryness in pregnancy.

Is Vaginal Dryness Normal In Early Pregnancy?

Vaginal dryness may occur temporarily during pregnancy and postpartum, which is natural. This happens because the estrogen level drops.

Elevated estrogen levels during pregnancy naturally keep the vagina healthy with a slightly acidic (pH 4) mucus-rich fluid (1). The fluid provides lubrication and sensation during sexual intercourse. It also acts as an immunological and physical barrier that deters infection and helps healthy vaginal bacteria (natural flora) to thrive (4).

What Are The Symptoms Of Vaginal Dryness?

Other than general dryness and itchiness in the vaginal area, some symptoms of vaginal dryness include (5) (6)

What Are The Causes Of Vaginal Dryness During Pregnancy?

Although vaginal dryness is a temporary condition during pregnancy, it may be triggered by several other factors. Some of the causes of vaginal dryness during pregnancy are (2) (6) (7)

  • Stress: Pregnancy may bring about many bodily changes, causing stress. Stress directly impacts the hormonal system, inducing vaginal dryness.
  • Lack of foreplay during sexual intercourse: Arousal is necessary for vaginal fluid secretion during sexual intercourse. Hence, vaginal dryness may persist in its absence.
  • Smoking: Smoking may impact the blood flow to your vital organs, affecting the lubrication of your private parts. Smoking may also affect your sexual arousal, thereby impacting the secretion of vaginal fluid.
  • Medication: Certain cold, allergy, and depression medications cause vaginal dryness as a side effect.
  • Microbial infections: Microbial colonization is possible during pregnancy, leading to vaginal dryness.

What Are The Treatments For Vaginal Dryness During Pregnancy?

Vaginal dryness is treatable, and adhering to a certain lifestyle may help re-gain the moisture of the organ. Your gynecologist may ask you about your lifestyle to rule out other causes and suggest an appropriate treatment.

The following are some treatments that may help ease the symptoms of vaginal dryness (6) (8) (9):

  • Use vaginal moisturizers and lubricants
  • Use water-based lubricants during sexual intercourse
  • Wear loose cotton undergarments
  • Wash the vagina with clean running water and dab it with a clean cloth
  • Apply vitamin E-enriched oil and coconut oil
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Practice yoga and mild exercises for stress-related dryness

What Should You Avoid To Ease Vaginal Dryness During Pregnancy?

Some of the measures you should avoid during pregnancy to ease vaginal dryness are (5) (10)

  • Hormonal therapy such as estradiol cream is not recommended for use in pregnancy. Beware of the risks of hormonal therapy and discuss them with your healthcare provider.
  • Avoid using scented soaps and lotions around the vagina. These products may aggravate the irritation and further increase the dryness.

Should You Be Concerned About Vaginal Dryness During Pregnancy?

Vaginal dryness during pregnancy is temporary and not a cause for concern. However, sometimes, it can result from an underlying complication. Hence, consult a doctor in the following scenarios (6):

  • It persists even after a few weeks of taking precautions
  • It is affecting your daily life
  • You notice bleeding or unusual discharge

Can You Prevent Vaginal Dryness By Drinking A Lot Of Water?

Although several factors dictate the dryness of the vagina, having sufficient water may help prevent vaginal dryness to some extent (11). According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), around eight to 12 glasses (64 to 96 ounces) of water are required every day during pregnancy (12). However, do not overdrink demineralized water, which may reduce your sodium and potassium levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can vaginal dryness during pregnancy indicate an infection?

Vaginal dryness may indicate vaginal infection or a UTI (8). A doctor will conduct a vaginal examination and pap test to check for an infection. If you have an infection, a course of antibiotics may help resolve it. Complete the entire course of antibiotics to avoid reoccurrence.

2. Can you take medications for vaginal dryness during pregnancy?

Vaginal dryness is a treatable condition. Once your doctor identifies the root cause of the problem, they may prescribe medications, vaginal moisturizers, or lubricants (13).

Vaginal dryness during pregnancy is an uncomfortable condition that may hamper your sexual experience as well. However, it is temporary and treatable. Follow your doctor’s advice regarding the best treatment suitable for your situation.

References:

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Anshuman Mohapatra

Anshuman Mohapatra is a biotechnology scientist with more than six years of research experience in analytical chemistry and biotechnology. He has submitted his Ph.D thesis at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati) and served as a research fellow (JRF/SRF) during his Ph.D tenure. His research interest includes analytical chemistry, neurobiology and lipid disorder diseases. Three of his research... more