Most women know that they might need some extra lubricant down there as they age. Indeed, vaginal dryness after menopause is typical and expected, according to the National Institute on Aging. However, what if you’re younger — even decades from menopause? Is it normal to have vaginal dryness in your 20s or 30s, too?
Vaginal tissue stays lubricated thanks to estrogen. Any drop in estrogen can lead to a drop in natural lubrication. As estrogen levels decrease, vaginal tissue thins out. As a result, the tissue may become dry and inflamed.
For younger women, vaginal dryness is often related to taking birth control pills and other medications. This may happen after a year of two of taking birth control pills, and not necessarily right away.
Here are other possible causes of vaginal dryness in younger women:
Irritants (more on this below)
Because of their effect on hormones, certain medications used to treat conditions can often affect vaginal lubrication, too. This includes medications for breast cancer, fibroids, infertility, and endometriosis.
A drop in estrogen isn’t the only reason you might be drying up. Irritants to avoid include:
Scented soaps and bubble baths
These irritants can destroy good bacteria in the vagina. As a result, this could lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria and an increased risk of bacterial vaginosis. This infection is the most common vaginal infection among women ages 15 to 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vaginal dryness is treatable. Options include:
Avoiding irritants in the vagina
Applying lubricants for sex
Using estrogen creams, which can help your body produce more natural lubrication
Having more regular sex with a trusted partner, which may help improve vaginal flexibility and lubrication
If you're concerned about your vaginal dryness, talk to your doctor. They may be able to provide suggestions based on your personal health factors.
Bacterial vaginosis - CDC fact sheet. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Accessed on January 10, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/std/BV/STDFact-Bacterial-Vaginosis.htm.)
Vaginal dryness. Washington, DC: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Accessed on January 10, 2021 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000892.htm.)
Vaginal dryness alternative treatments. Washington, DC: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Accessed on January 10, 2021 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002142.htm.)
What are the signs and symptoms of menopause? Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Aging. (Accessed on January 10, 2021 at https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-are-signs-and-symptoms-menopause.)