What is Postpartum Vaginal Dryness?
The body of a female goes through profound changes during pregnancy. There are a few changes that can be observed even after delivery, one is dryness in the vagina which is also called as Postpartum Vaginal Dryness.
Postpartum vaginal dryness can lead to the thinning of the vaginal tissue making it less elastic and more prone to injuries. The vagina can get inflamed easily and this can cause burning and itching.
It was found in a study done on 832 women that 43 percent were seen developing vaginal dryness(1)
It is a common condition and females observing it find sex uncomfortable and difficult.
How Do Hormones Affect Vaginal Dryness?
Hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone are the main hormones responsible for vaginal dryness.
Estrogen is a necessary hormone for sexual arousal as it boosts the flow of blood to the genitals and increases lubrication. Lack of this hormone is responsible for the postpartum symptoms that include hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
These hormones are produced in the ovaries and are responsible for breast development and menstruation.
They are also responsible for the build-up of the lining of the uterus during the menstrual cycle. If the egg does not implant in the uterine lining, the level of estrogen and progesterone drop, and the lining is shed as period.
If a female gets pregnant, the level of these hormones rises up and the uterine lining develops into the placenta, which also produces estrogen and progesterone.
After the child is born, the level of estrogen and progesterone decline dramatically to the pre-pregnancy levels. This happens within 24 hours of giving birth.
Some females take estrogen pills to counter the effects of its deficiency post-delivery. This should be done on doctor’s advice after knowing the risk and the benefits of the same.
Postpartum Vaginal Dryness and Thyroiditis
Inflammation of thyroid gland or thyroiditis, if developed after the childbirth is known as postpartum thyroiditis. In some cases, postpartum vaginal dryness can also be caused due to postpartum thyroiditis. The thyroid gland produces hormones that are necessary to carry out various vital functions of the body.
The symptoms of postpartum thyroiditis include:
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Vaginal dryness
About 10 percent of females develop postpartum thyroiditis(2)
Often beta-blockers are suggested to help reduce the symptoms. In the case of the under-producing thyroid gland, thyroid hormone replacement therapy is recommended.
In most of the females, the thyroid function returns to normal in 12-18 months, if the childbirth is responsible for causing it.
What Can Be Done In Case Of Postpartum Vaginal Dryness?
Postpartum vaginal dryness may make intercourse very painful and can also sometimes lead to bleeding from the vagina.
The sexual experience can be enhanced by following the below-mentioned tips:
- Using a lubricant while having sex.
- Consult a doctor for an estrogen vaginal cream such as conjugated estrogen or estradiol.
- Keep the body well hydrated. Drink plenty of water.
- Use vaginal moisturizers almost every day
- Avoid using vaginal douches or hygiene sprays that might irritate the vaginal tissues
- Speak with your partner about the concern
Anything if felt wrong with the body should be brought to doctor’s notice. They can advise the best possible solution.
Other than the hormone deprivation; infection, diabetes, and vaginismus (involuntary contractions) can lead to painful intercourse. Therefore, consulting a doctor can also help with a proper diagnosis.