It’s not something widely talked about, but women’s intimate health is an important topic. By understanding and properly caring for the delicate vaginal and vulval environment, uncomfortable symptoms can be avoided, and a general sense of enhanced sexual health and wellbeing can be experienced.
Even seemingly simple things can affect intimate health. For example, the optimum pH of a woman’s intimate area is 3.8pH – 4.5pH, but this balance can be easily altered by the use of non pH balanced intimate products, often resulting in Thrush, Bacterial Vaginosis and Urinary Tract Infections.
Vaginal and vulva dryness is a very common concern, with around 70% of post-menopausal women and 15% of pre-menopausal women affected by it. However, when such health concerns arise, discussing them can often cause embarrassment, which can lead to the problem being left untreated.
The great thing is, there are natural over-the-counter remedies available that are designed to keep vaginal pH in the right range. They are specially formulated to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms and maintain intimate health.
A bit about your intimate area
Your vagina and surrounding area are formed from the most sensitive and delicate skin on your body. It is protected by a mucous membrane, a lining which protects body cavities and canals that lead to the outside. These membranes are also found within the eyelids, nose, mouth, windpipe, lungs, stomach, intestines, rectal and urinary tracts.
The mucous membrane has three main functions:
- It prevents disease-causing organisms from getting into the body
- It protects against wear and tear caused by things like food, dust and sexual activity
- It secretes lubrication, which helps to keep the underlying tissue moist
What is intimate dryness?
Vaginal and vulva dryness occurs when there are reduced levels of moisture around/within the intimate area. It is very common and most women will experience it at some point in their life.
This dryness can cause a stinging/burning sensation, discomfort during sex, a higher pH leading to thrush and a condition called atrophic vaginitis, which can even make sitting down uncomfortable.
What causes intimate dryness?
Vaginal dryness is caused by a drop in oestrogen levels, which can happen at any stage of a woman’s life:
- During your monthly cycle
- During / post-pregnancy, when hormones fluctuate
- During / post-menopause
It can also occur as a result of certain medications, including:
- Anti-breast cancer medications
- Exposure to chemotherapy
- Antihistamines (which are designed to dry the mucous membrane in your nose and eyes)
- Some progesterone-only contraceptive pills, if taken over a long period of time
Lifestyle factors & medical conditions can also affect intimate dryness, such as:
- Excess alcohol
- Lack of sexual activity
Remedies for intimate dryness
If you are experiencing, or are concerned about, vaginal and/or vulva dryness, then there are over-the-counter remedies that could help relieve symptoms.
Lubricants can help during sexual intimacy, when dryness is caused by short-term conditions such as a fluctuating menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, heightened levels of stress or use of antihistamines or anti-depressants.
Vaginal moisturisers can be used for more acute dryness caused by longer term conditions, such as menopause. These moisturisers can help to restore moisture levels around the vaginal area and boost comfort levels by relieving stinging and burning.
If symptoms persist, it is recommended that you speak to your GP or healthcare professional.