Health, Lifestyle

The distressing condition of vaginal dryness

Vaginal lubrication is caused by the secretion of different glands, Bartholin’s glands, for example, as well as by transudation (light secretions of the vaginal wall).

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sequedad vaginal 1José A. de la Osa

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These secretions may increase towards the middle of the menstrual cycle, because of the increase in the quantity of cervical mucus, a clinical change related to ovulation.

The vaginal epithelium responds to hormonal stimuli, which is why as women age some of these physiological mechanisms can be affected.

This is how Doctor Liliam Delgado Peruyera explains it, when she visits The Prisma to talk about this topic.

sequedad vaginal 12She is a First Degree Specialist in General Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Chief of the Emergency Gynaecology department and member of the multidisciplinary consultation group on Climacterium and Menopause at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology teaching Hospital in London. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Integral Care for Women.

What are the causes of vaginal dryness?

sequedad vaginal  11The most common cause is associated with ageing because of the reduction in oestrogen, which is characteristic in post-menopausal women, and which is a frequent reason for patients coming either to their GP or to the specialist clinics of Climacterium and Menopause for help. Vaginal dryness also occurs as a consequence of radiation treatment given to patients with cancer, and as a result of the misuse of vaginal pessaries without medical prescription which are applied after menstruation “to clean up” as the patients themselves describe it.

Could it also be caused by psychological disorders?

sequedad vaginal 13It is unlikely that it is caused by a psychological disorder as the condition represents a biological disorder (vaginal dryness). What happens is that the woman experiences pain during sex, sex stops being enjoyable, and this causes irritation and physical and emotional damage. “My vagina is as dry as sandpaper” say some patients in the clinic. It is clear that this can cause a drop in a woman’s sexual appetite or libido. The climacteric woman, who is between 40 and 59 years old, often reports a lowering in libido even before the appearance of vaginal dryness.

Why do women come to the Gynaecology Clinic?

sequedad vaginal  3Generally, having problems in sexual relations, dryness, sometimes vaginal secretions, with urinary symptoms accompanied by burning and pain during urination, and sometimes with traces of blood, mainly when wiping themselves after urinating. The appearance of blood should never be ignored and you should always go to the doctor, because although it may be caused by inflammation of the vagina, it might also be “hiding” the presence of cancer of the vulva, vagina or uterus.

How is a firm diagnosis made?

This is done clinically. Occasionally further measures are needed to rule out associated illnesses and in this case vaginal, urethral and urine samples are taken. If lesions are found that are not in the vagina, then colposcopy is recommended and the taking of biopsies. If there is a change in pigmentation to the skin in the vulva area then an examination by Dermatology is also recommended.

Is vaginal dryness treatable?

sequedad vaginal  7Yes. There are some natural medical treatments, like aloe vera, and others with the use of medically prescribed creams, which can sometimes be effective.

Can you tell me exactly how to get and use aloe vera?

The impurities are removed from freshly collected aloe vera leaves using running water, boiling water or chlorinated water. The outside layer of the leaves is removed, including the thorns on the sides, being careful not to scratch the green skin of the plant so as not to contaminate the gel inside. The gel is then cut into squares of approximately one centimetre square and kept in the fridge, or preferably in the freezer. Women can apply one every day, whether they are having sexual relations or not, because the aloe vera not only helps with lubrication, but also aids vaginal tissue repair.

sequedad vaginal  4In general, what is the prognosis for these patients?

The prognosis is good. However, it is a disorder which, although it can improve, is subject to relapses.

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(Translated by Jane Martin – www.sunflowertranslation.com)

 

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