Low libido, or low sex drive, and vaginal dryness are common conditions faced by many women. It is natural for your sexual desire to fluctuate over the years, especially with life or hormonal changes. But if you have a persistent low sex drive that causes personal distress, you may have low libido. 

Vaginal dryness is a condition of reduced vaginal secretion, making sex uncomfortable and painful. It is prevalent in post-menopausal women between 51 and 60. As vaginal dryness is associated with pain during sex, it may result in low libido. Thus, in the majority of cases, both conditions co-exist.

But the good news is that various treatment options ranging from lifestyle modifications to medicines can help you get back your sexual health.

So, if you notice a change in your libido or dryness in the vagina, it is best to consult your doctor. They will help you find an underlying cause and manage the same to solve your problem.

Overview

Vaginal dryness is a common condition and can affect any woman; however, it is prevalent in post-menopausal women between 51 and 60.  Secretion of the glands at the neck of the uterus keeps your vagina moist and supple. The moisture gradually moves through the vagina, removing dead cells and keeping it clean. 

As the vaginal secretion is acidic, it aids in keeping the vagina healthy and prevents infections such as thrush. It is also normal for women to have a slight vaginal discharge. When sexually aroused, glands at the entrance of the vagina (Bartholin’s glands) produce extra secretion to aid sexual intercourse.

As you age, the secretion from these glands reduces, resulting in vaginal dryness. Estrogen, a female hormone, is responsible for maintaining vaginal lubrication. Low estrogen levels also result in a less elastic, thinner, and more fragile vaginal lining. So, women with low estrogen levels also face vaginal dryness.

About 25% of women between 50 and 59 experience vaginal dryness during sex. About 16% of these women experience pain. All these factors ultimately lower your sex drive.

ALSO READ  Sex Life and Diabetes

Causes

Here are some common causes of low sex drive and vaginal dryness.

Vaginal Dryness

The causes can be divided as follows:

Before the Menopause

It is seen that 17% of women between 18-50 experience vaginal dryness even before menopause sets in. 

Many women face vaginal dryness during sex because they are not sexually aroused, which can be caused by psychological reasons such as stress or insufficient foreplay.

Some other reasons for vaginal dryness before menopause are:

  • Swimming pool
  • Hot tub chemicals
  • Some washing powders
  • Hygiene products such as harsh soaps and feminine soaps
  • Medications to treat depression, allergy, and cold also dry out mucus membrane, resulting in vaginal dryness
  • Low estrogen levels, as seen in women with hysterectomy, breastfeeding mothers, and those who received chemotherapy
  • Surgical removal of the ovaries

After the Menopause

The average age of menopause is 51. As the hormone levels change during menopause, menopausal women notice a change in their bodies.

The ovaries stop producing estrogen, and thus its level begins to reduce. One of the common symptoms of low estrogen levels is reduced lubrication during sexual activity. Lack of estrogen causes the tissues and the skin of the vagina and vulva to become less elastic and thinner, and the vagina becomes dry.

About 50% of menopausal women face vaginal dryness.

Low Sex Drive

Physical Problems

Physical changes, certain conditions, and medications may decrease your sex drive, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Sexual problems
  • Medications such as antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
  • Health disorders such as cancer, nerve disorders, arthritis, heart disorders, diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Lifestyle habits such as excess alcohol consumption and smoking
  • Surgery: Any surgery related to your genital tract or breasts may affect sexual function, body image, and desire for sex.

Hormonal Problems

Changes in your hormone levels may alter your desire for sex. This can occur during:

  • Pregnancy and lactation
  • Menopause

Psychological Causes

Your state of mind can also influence your sexual desire. Some psychological causes of low sex drive are:

  • Stress such as work or financial stress
  • Low self-esteem
  • Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety
  • History of sexual or physical abuse
  • Poor body image
  • Negative sexual experience in a previous relationship
ALSO READ  Anorgasmia in Women

Relationship Problems

For many women, an emotional bond is a prerequisite for sexual intimacy. Problems in a relationship may thus be a crucial factor for low sex drive. Some relationship problems that may affect your libido are:

  • Unresolved fights or conflicts
  • Trust issues
  • Lack of connection with your partner
  • Poor communication of sexual preferences and needs

Symptoms

Low Sex Drive

Some symptoms of low sex drive include:

  • Disinterest in initiating sex
  • Few or absent sexual fantasies or thoughts
  • Difficulty getting pleasure from sex
  • No or little interest in sexual activity
  • Absence of pleasurable sensations on stimulating genitals

Vaginal Dryness

Common symptoms include:

  • Loss of lubrication during sex
  • Pain during sex
  • Thinning of the skin of the vagina and vulva
  • Uncomfortable to exercise, stand, work, or urinate
  • Thinner vulval lips
  • Difficulty in taking a cervical smear
  • Change in vaginal discharge, which is watery, slightly smelly, and discolored
  • Loss in sexual- and self-confidence

Effects

The symptoms of a dry vagina can be worrying, but it should be noted that most of the time, the symptoms are due to hormonal changes and not due to anything serious.

For many women, the symptoms of low sex drive and vaginal dryness may confuse as they are similar to thrush and sexually transmitted diseases. Some women may even mistakenly take over-the-counter medicines for thrush, making the condition worse. 

The emotional impact of vaginal dryness is different for all women. Changes in the body can be challenging to accept. The discomfort and pain caused by vaginal dryness can result in a loss of sexual confidence and self-confidence.

Loss in sexual drive may be embarrassing for women to discuss with their partners. This may affect their relationship with their partner, especially if the woman cannot express why they are not interested in sexual activity.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may ask about your symptoms. They will ask you about your sexual desire, fantasies, and if lack of sexual drive is causing personal distress. 

ALSO READ  Low Sex Drive and Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Some questions they may ask:

  • Experiencing spotting or bleeding after sex
  • Experiencing irritation, dryness, pain, or burning during sex
  • Change in appearance of the vagina

Your doctor may also run a physical check to check for signs of physical disorders causing low sexual desire such as vaginal dryness, thinning of genital tissues, or pain-triggering spots. 

They may also advise blood tests to check diabetes, hormonal levels, thyroid problems, liver disorders, and high cholesterol. Your doctor may also refer to a specialist, which can be a sex therapist or a specialized counselor, to resolve relationship and emotional factors responsible for low libido.

Treatment

While there can be several causes for low sex drive and vaginal dryness, multiple treatment options are available to manage the underlying problem.

Some options include:

  • Lubricants, which are similar to natural lubrication 
  • Vaginal moisturizers
  • Sex counseling
  • Medicine to improve sexual drive, such as Bremelanotide and Flibanserin
  • Estrogen therapy available in the form of gels, sprays, patches, and sprays
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which is available as a vaginal insert

Lifestyle Changes

  • Regular exercise 
  • Manage stress level through yoga or meditation
  • Communicate openly with your partner
  • Set time for cuddling and intimacy
  • Add spice to your sex life by trying different sex positions or a different location for sex
  • Ditch bad habits of smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and illegal drugs

Final Thoughts

Low libido and vaginal dryness are common conditions and can affect women of any age but are prevalent in menopausal women between 51 and 70. Besides, they can be an indicator of an underlying condition.

Treatment of low libido and vaginal dryness depends on the cause. For instance, if the medicine is responsible for the low sex drive, switching it to one without any sexual side-effects may help. If a psychological cause is responsible, you may need sex or relationship counseling.

You can also make lifestyle changes such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthier diet, being active, and practicing stress management to improve your sex drive.

Read More... 1873 Views