Women’s Health Vaginal Dryness Causes, Symptoms and Treatment: Vaginal dryness mostly occurs due to a hormonal imbalance in the female reproductive system as well as in the tissues and membranes of the vagina. This symptom is most often associated with menopause. Additional causes of vaginal dryness are childbirth, breastfeeding, stress, birth control pills, medications, and other less common gynecological problems.
Symptoms of vaginal dryness include painful urination, sudden depression, itching or burning sensation, and pain or difficulty in having sex.
How does using birth control pills cause vaginal dryness?
Vaginal dryness is the most common side effect of birth control pills. Although this is a normal side effect, vaginal dryness can cause itching or burning sensations and difficulty having sex, which can be problematic. Understanding how birth control pills contribute to vaginal dryness can help to learn how to treat it.
The use of oral contraception can lead to vaginal dryness in multiple ways.
First, taking birth control pills causes your body to produce less estrogen than is produced during a normal menstrual cycle. Birth control is designed to keep a woman’s estrogen levels at the same relatively low level for the entire month. Higher levels of estrogen produced during a normal menstrual cycle, however, help maintain the normal mucus production in the vagina. Therefore, a low level of estrogen caused by the use of birth control can lead to less mucus production and therefore vaginal dryness.
Second, because the pill inhibits ovulation, it reduces the cyclical production of testosterone for libido. Decreased libido causes a decreased ability to respond to sexual desire, leading to less lubrication in the vaginal area even when aroused.
Lastly, birth control pills are associated with an increased production of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG)1, which makes the testosterone in a woman’s bloodstream unavailable, leading to further decreased libido and therefore less vaginal lubrication.
What are solutions to minimize vaginal dryness while using birth control pills?
There are multiple ways to treat vaginal dryness. Some suggestions are listed below. During sex, use of a water-soluble lubricant (any slippery aid like KY Jelly or Astroglide) may help.
Changing your birth control pill or your current’s pills dose may help reduce symptoms. Most pills are available with a dose of 20, 30, or 35 micrograms (mcg) of estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) combined with a dose of a progestin (synthetic progesterone). Switching to a higher dose of estrogen, such as to 35 or 50 mcg may increase estrogen levels and reduce vaginal dryness. Consult your physician to discuss moving to a higher estrogen pill.
Taking oral estrogen for a few days a month may also be helpful, as low-dose estrogen birth control pills may not be providing a sufficient amount of estrogen. Drink more water and try to avoid dehydrating beverages such as caffeinated tea, coffee, and alcohol. Take care of yourself by exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet. To ensure adequate nutrition, take a daily multivitamin.
Does having a Tubal Ligation or a Tubal Reversal affect vaginal dryness?
Some women who have had a tubal ligation complain of “post-tubal syndrome”, which includes symptoms of vaginal dryness. Tubal reversal surgery, specifically microsurgical tubal reanastomosis, can help mitigate symptoms for women who suffer from post-tubal syndrome. The mechanism of why this occurs is not entirely clear, but for some patients tubal reversal is an option worth exploring.