What Causes Vaginal Dryness?

From hormonal changes to stress, there are many things that can influence your reproductive health. In this post, we’re going to take a look at the many causes of vaginal dryness, touch on treatments, and unpack how tracking changes throughout your menstrual cycle can help you learn more about your body.

Illustrated outline of hips with the vagina and surrounding area highlighted

Every vagina is different

Before we look at the different causes of vaginal dryness, it’s important to remember that vaginal dryness is a spectrum, we’re all different and some vaginas will be dryer than others, and providing you’re happy and healthy otherwise that’s OK. If you find vaginal dryness is interfering with your day-to-day life, then you should talk to your doctor for medical advice. 

Vaginal dryness and the menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle is regulated with a balance of hormones, these cause changes and trigger events such as ovulation and menstruation. Our hormone levels can also have an effect on things such as how oily our skin is, our energy levels, and our overall mood. If you’ve found your vagina’s dryer in the lead up to your period, it might be completely natural and simply linked to rising levels of the hormone progesterone

Reduced estrogen and high progesterone are also linked to a dip in sex drive, this may also play a part in vaginal dryness. Keeping track of where you are in your cycle can help you spot these kinds of patterns, and we’ll get to how you can do exactly that later in this post.

Vaginal dryness and menopause

Similarly, at the end of our fertile years, estrogen levels stay low. During perimenopause and menopause, vaginal dryness can make sex painful - using lubricants can rectify this and while it’s not often talked about, vaginal dryness around this time is very common. 

Vaginal dryness while pregnant or breastfeeding

If you’re pregnant or have just had a baby and are breastfeeding, your hormone levels are also influenced. Levels of the hormone estrogen are also low. We know estrogen affects libido and a lack of it can also cause vaginal dryness.

Unbalanced vaginal ph causes dryness and infections

Vaginal dryness isn’t always linked to hormones. The vagina has a very sensitive pH balance and if this is disrupted, it can lead to vaginal dryness. This can happen by using creams, non-sensitive lubricants, or soap in the vagina. 

Even the use of specially designed ‘intimate’ soaps or washes can lead to a dry vagina, as the vagina is self-cleaning, and doesn’t need any products to be used on it. Worse still, an unbalanced vaginal pH can, in the long run, lead to unpleasant infections such as thrush. So when it comes to how to clean your vagina, keeping it natural and letting it do its own thing is best.

Vaginal dryness during sex

Vaginal dryness can also be caused by anxiety around sex or not being sufficiently aroused before penetration. Discussing this with your partner, telling them what you do and don’t like, and taking things slowly may help you overcome vaginal dryness during sex. You can also try using pH-balanced lubricants to help with vaginal dryness during sex.

Stress, depression, and vaginal dryness

If you’re experiencing low mood, stress, or depression these can also affect your body and cause vaginal dryness. Stress and depression are also linked to low sex drive - meaning a low libido can go hand-in-hand with vaginal dryness. 

Being extremely stressed isn’t healthy for us, and while we can cope with a little bit of pressure from time to time prolonged stress can have an impact on our overall health. Did you know that there’s a link between stress and the menstrual cycle? Ovulation may be delayed or may not happen at all if we’re very stressed. 

Other causes of vaginal dryness

There are so many factors that can cause vaginal dryness. As well as those mentioned above, vaginal dryness can also be linked to diabetes, certain cancer treatments, and the removal of the ovaries. A medical professional can help you find the cause of vaginal dryness, offer a diagnosis, and may provide advice and or treatment.

Vaginal dryness treatments and prevention

While hormonal changes throughout the cycle may lead to vaginal dryness, but if your life is being affected by vaginal dryness, you should talk to your doctor. If vaginal dryness is causing pain during sex, remember you can try using lubricants.

If you are struggling with depression or experiencing prolonged periods of stress, causing vaginal dryness, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional to get help. If you manage depression or ease stress effectively, you are likely to see a reduction in vaginal dryness and improvements in your overall wellness.

Tracking changes in your cycle

Keeping track of symptoms throughout your cycle such as sex drive, pain, and mood changes can really help you get to know your body better. Natural Cycles is a certified birth control app and fertility partner that offers in-app tracking so you can spot patterns in your cycle. Use Natural Cycles to prevent pregnancy or plan pregnancy and learn the pattern of your unique cycle. 

Discover the world's first birth control app.

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Written By

Jennifer Gray

A writer with a passion for women’s health, Jennifer Gray has years of experience writing about various reproductive health topics including birth control, planning pregnancy, women’s anatomy, and so much more.

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Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

With 10 years of experience working in the field of fertility, Jack Pearson is Natural Cycles’ in-house expert. As Medical Affairs Manager, he dedicates his time to conducting groundbreaking research and educating healthcare professionals.

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