Yet there's no reason for the subject to be such a big taboo. Vaginal dryness is a common problem in the UK. And, because it has a major impact on sex and relationships, needs to be discussed more openly.
According to Dr Diana Mansour, consultant in community gynaecology and reproductive healthcare, vaginal dryness is not just a menopause-related problem. "Pregnancy, hormonal treatments and even stress or tiredness may also lead to dryness in the intimate vaginal area," she says. "As you age, hormonal changes can cause vaginal dryness, which can be uncomfortable, leaving you more vulnerable to irritation or causing pain and discomfort during sex. If your dryness is persistent, contact your doctor or other healthcare professional for advice or more information."
Various moisturisers for vaginal dryness are available over the counter from pharmacies. These include Replens MD, Balance Activ Menopause, Sylk Natural Intimate Moisturiser and new Canesintima Intimate Moisturiser from Bayer Healthcare, which makes Canesten. Your GP can also prescribe some of these products on prescription.
Dr Mansour stresses the importance of using an intimate moisturiser specifically for vaginal areas. "Using an intimate moisturiser may help keep the external vaginal area hydrated and lubricated, therefore easing the discomfort and further irritation," she says. "These products should be free from parabens, soap and preservatives, as well as dermatologically tested, making them suitable for the vagina's delicate environment."
If you want to discuss intimate health issues with your pharmacist, ask if you can go into their private consultation room.
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