Vaginal dryness is an issue that impacts millions of women. Our blog is full of advice on how to tackle this issue, but we truly believe that prevention is better than cure. If we were taught the importance of maintaining vaginal moisture and how to protect it, it could save a lot of women facing dryness, irritation and painful sex. So that’s what we are going to do right now!
THE IMPORTANCE OF VAGINAL MOISTURE
Your vagina is an incredible - and very smart - part of the body. It has a mucous membrane, which means that it is constantly secreting mucus. This mucus has various jobs and maintains the health, safety, and pleasure of your body - so a happy vagina should always be a little wet inside. Here are just a few of the roles your vaginal mucus plays.
A healthy vagina will always have a thin layer of moisture coating its walls. However, when we are aroused, two glands located at the entrance of the vagina produce extra moisture! When you get turned on, these glands get turned on too, which is why you might notice you feel wetter in the lead up to intercourse - or any sexual activity. This moisture acts as a natural lubricant during sex, helping to reduce friction, protect you from pain and make sex even more enjoyable.
Your vaginal moisture helps to create an acidic environment that protects you from infections. Cast your mind back to the biology lesson and you might remember that on the pH scale 0 is the most acidic and 14 is the most alkaline. The standard pH balance of a healthy vagina is around 3.8 and 4.5 thanks to the mucus it secretes. That’s pretty acidic and makes it very difficult for unwelcome, bad bacteria to thrive - as they prefer more alkaline environments.
Whilst acidic mucus is great for keeping infections at bay, it’s not helpful for fertility. Sperm struggle to swim and survive in acidic environments, but your incredibly clever vagina knows that. During penetrative sex, the mucus you secrete actually changes the pH of your vagina, making it more alkaline. This helps to give the sperm cells a better chance of fertilising the egg - but it does mean you are temporarily more at risk of infections. That’s why it’s a good idea to always go to the toilet after sex, as it will help flush out any bacteria in the vagina and protect you from UTIs.
The moisture that coats the vagina is produced by glands at the cervix and then moves down the vagina, removing dead cells along the way.
WHAT CAUSES VAGINAL DRYNESS?
As you can see, our vaginal moisture levels play a key role in our reproductive and sexual health. Not only can vaginal dryness interfere with this role, but it can also cause some serious discomfort, including:
- Pain with sex
- Light bleeding following sex
- Vaginal itching
- Vaginal stinging
- Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
The biggest culprit of vaginal dryness is falling estrogen levels. Estrogen does a lot for our body, and one of its roles includes maintaining moisture in the body - especially the vagina. However, there are a few things that can cause estrogen to plummet, including:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Excessive stress
- Rigorous exercise
- Immune system disorders
Some of these circumstances and life stages are unavoidable, but having a good baseline of vaginal health will help reduce the risk of vaginal dryness as and when you face them. However, some, like stress and smoking, can be tackled by leading a healthy lifestyle.
The best way to ensure the health of your vagina is to take care of its moisture before it becomes a problem. Let’s all repeat this together: prevention is better than treatment! Follow the below tips for restoring and maintaining vaginal moisture.
WAYS TO MAINTAIN VAGINAL MOISTURE
Most of us are guilty of not drinking as much water as we should. However, water is quite literally necessary for life, so drinking enough is really important. In addition to the role water plays throughout the body, it also helps to maintain moisture levels, so we all need to vow to drink more water (aim for at least 8 glasses a day) to help improve our vaginal moisture.
If you struggle to drink enough water (and we’re right there with you), try eating foods with a higher water content to up your fluid intake throughout the day. Fruits, such as watermelon and pineapple are an excellent option!
Exercising is vital for many aspects of your health, and your vaginal health is no different. This is because exercise plays an important role in hormone balance, and as we know, hormone levels can affect the moisture level of the vagina. You can lie to your doctor all you want about how much exercise you get (no judgement here), but you really should try and get your body moving to help regulate your hormones. So, go for a walk or pull up a workout video on YouTube and get your body moving, even if it’s only for a little bit.
For those experiencing long-term vaginal dryness due to decreasing estrogen levels, your doctor may prescribe estrogen therapy. This can be offered as a cream, pill, or ring that releases estrogen. There are a few risk factors associated with taking estrogen, even in cream form, so consult with your doctors first, If you are pregnant or breastfeeding then it’s unlikely it will be recommended. Read about the side effects of estrogen creams here.
Use Products Created For Your Vagina
Even if you aren’t yet dealing with vaginal dryness, you may want to use products like lubricants to keep things extra moist. The lubricant you use should be water-based and shouldn't contain any perfumes, herbal extracts, or artificial colors, as these things can be irritating to the sensitive tissues of the vagina and playing with its pH level.
If you want to get ahead of the curve and really prioritize your vaginal health, Vagivital offers both a cleanser and an active gel that can help improve the moisture levels in your vagina. The cleanser, in particular, can be used every day to help treat dryness and prevent future episodes of low vaginal moisture while hydrating the vagina and restoring its natural pH balance.