Vaginal Dryness – Causes & Treatment

Let’s be honest. Discussing your vaginal dryness is not an easy topic with your doctor or even your girlfriends.  Most of us want any vaginal symptoms quickly and quietly solved whilst hoping that it will somehow go away. While some symptoms may seem simple, they could lead to other more severe conditions and should not be ignored. Vaginal dryness is one such condition that is common but seldom adequately addressed. The dryness results in chronic irritation, such as itching, soreness or a burning sensation. This silent suffering has both a physical and emotional impact on many women. Discussing vaginal dryness with your doctor makes many women uncomfortable. It may be even more daunting when discussing these symptoms with a doctor in Japan when you do not speak Japanese. Some women may think that seeking a solution for vaginal dryness makes them appear more sexually active then they would be happy to admit. But treating the symptoms of vaginal dryness goes beyond improved sexual health and should be about restoring vaginal health as well as emotional wellbeing. If left untreated, vaginal dryness may lead to more serious conditions like atrophic vaginitis, urinary discomfort and bladder infections. A common treatment is hormone replacement therapy. However, introducing hormones to the body is not for everyone. Such treatment can only be achieved in close consultation with a medical practitioner. Over the years, hormone replacement therapy has been fraught with controversy due to its close association with breast and uterine cancers. The logical and discreet alternative to hormone therapy would be over-the-counter solutions. While there are few if no alternatives in Japan, there are effective natural over-the-counter solutions available overseas that can be easily shipped to Japan.  When in Japan ask for a solution for vaginal dryness – 腟乾燥症 (chitsu-kansoh-sho) – and your friendly pharmacist will likely advise you to consult your doctor. They do however have topical creams for mild relief of abrasion or irritation – デリケートゾーン(陰部)の かゆみ や かぶれ (delicate zone no kayumi ya kabure) or personal lubricants. As such, women looking for a discreet non-invasive solution may in fact find their perfect solution online. There are a few good products available that seek to repair, heal and restore a healthy and moisturizing vaginal environment. In your search, perhaps consider the following:
  1. Can this product be shipped to Japan? Not all products can be legally shipped to Japan. To be sure, please check with the Ministry of Labour, Health and Welfare.
  2. What are the active ingredients? Examine the contents of the product you are about to buy. A well known pharmaceutical brand does not mean that it is necessarily what you want for your body. Many solutions for vaginal dryness use parabens in the formula as parabens have been known to mimic the absence of oestrogen. But the use of parabens in personal care products have been controversial as some research has linked the use of parabens to the development of breast cancer. Alternatives include using essential oils and evening primrose oil, which has a natural anti-inflammatory effect.
  3. Is it easy to use? How often do I have to use it? Some solutions require a once or twice daily application which may not work for some lifestyles. Some creams from a tube are messier than gels with an applicator. Be honest with what you can cope with.
  4. User reviews and experiences Read about what other women have to say and how they cope. It is always comforting to know you are not alone in your experience.
  5. Listen to your body Everyone responds differently to different treatments so be prepared that the first one you try may not work. Pick up a trial pack where available and stop if you experience discomfort. If in doubt, never hesitate to consult a medical practitioner.
What causes vaginal dryness? It is misunderstood that only menopausal women experience vaginal dryness. Indeed, reduced oestrogen levels during menopause results in vaginal dryness. But oestrogen levels can change at various stages in a woman’s life. Other causes of vaginal dryness include:
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Medication
  • Cancer treatment
  • Advanced Endometriosis
  • Prolonged use of tampons
  • Stress
  • Sexual abuse
  • Excessive exercise