Vaginal wetness: what to expect during menopause?

Vaginal wetness tends to be a subject we do not really think about often. It is only when we have an issue with it that we realise its importance in our daily life. We know how hard it can be for you to talk about it. So we are here to tell you all about this condition and when to seek help.

What is vaginal wetness and what does it do?

Vaginal wetness is the daily lubrication produced by the glands on the cervix to keep the tissue moist and elastic. The flow makes its way down through the vagina dragging dead cells –it is the vagina’s cleansing mechanism. Moreover, its pH helps to keep the vagina’s acidity levels, which helps preventing infections such as a yeast infection. During sexual arousal, Bartholin’s glands bring about additional wetness. They are located to each side of the vaginal opening and produce mucus to facilitate intercourse and the female orgasm (Women’s Health Concern, 2020).

Factors that reduce vaginal wetness

There are many variables that come into play regarding regular levels of lubrication. It can become reduced due to some illnesses, hormonal causes, and even medical treatments (NHS, 2017):

  • Menopause.
  • Breastfeeding.
  • Use of oral contraception.
  • Use of medication to treat depression.
  • Cancer treatments.
  • Hysterectomy.
  • Lack of arousal during sexual intercourse.
  • Use of perfumed soap and vaginal douches inside and around the vagina.
  • Diabetes.

Why does menopause decrease vaginal wetness?

Women can experience vaginal dryness during any stage of the menopause. During this time, the body produces less sexual hormones –mainly oestrogen, which regulates mucus production. Moreover, decreased oestrogen levels lead to less elasticity and thickness of the vagina. It can also prompt a swelling of the vaginal walls (ACOG, 2020).

Effects on sex life

Lubrication is a fundamental aspect of sexuality. During arousal, the vagina prepares by lubricating and thus facilitating intercourse. This happens naturally. Vaginal dryness comes about when this mechanism does not unfold (Baxter, n.d.). Dryness can have a domino effect. A woman can grow fearful of sexual relations due to the pain stemming from dryness. Furthermore, vaginal wetness may continue to decrease. In many cases, it can be mistaken for a symptom of a sexually transmitted disease . Additionally, talking to one’s partner about diminished sexual desire due to vaginal dryness may be difficult. In fact, this issue may not only take a toll on sexual health, but emotional health as well (Women’s Health Concern, 2020). Vaginal wetness: what to expect during menopause?

Signs and symptoms of lower vaginal wetness

Some other symptoms that may come along vaginal dryness include (NHS, 2017; Women’s Health Concern, 2020):

  • Pain and itchiness inside and around the vagina.
  • Discomfort or pain during intercourse.
  • A need to urinate more often than usual.
  • Ongoing urinary tract infections.
  • Pain when seating, standing up, walking, and exercising.
  • Increased pain during vaginal examinations.

Recommendations to ease symptoms

If you are experiencing decreased vaginal lubrication, we advise you to (NHS, 2017):

  • Use water-based lubricants before intercourse. You may use inside and around the vagina.
  • Consider using over-the-counter vaginal moisturisers.
  • Avoid vaginal douches for washing. Instead, choose unscented soap around the vagina.
  • Enjoy foreplay during intercourse.
  • Never apply vaseline or lotion inside the vagina.

When to consider seeing a doctor?

If you have tried these remedies and your vaginal dryness does not improve, you should speak to your GP. Also if you have abnormal discharge with a foul odour or experience bleeding during intercourse or sporadically. Never use hormones or other medication without a proper prescription –these may have side effects and may not be useful for every case (NHS, 2017). Undoubtedly, decreased vaginal wetness may affect a woman’s quality of life. It is one of menopause’s most feared symptoms. However, there are options available to treat it. Consult with your doctor if this condition is impacting your daily routine, of if you are experiencing symptoms of infection. References ACOG. (2020). Experiencing Vaginal Dryness? Here’s What You Need to Know. Baxter, R. (S.f.). Why is vaginal lubrication important for women? ISSM. NHS. UK (2017). Vaginal dryness. Women’s Health Concern. (2020) Vaginal dryness.