As a new mum, you have enough on your plate taking care of your precious newborn. But any women experience a lesser-known postpartum issue: vaginal dryness. This condition can be uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful, making it essential to understand its causes and how to manage it effectively.
Understanding postpartum vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness is a common issue faced by women after giving birth. It is characterised by a lack of natural lubrication in the vagina, which can cause itching, irritation, and pain during intercourse. This condition can be attributed to hormonal changes, breastfeeding, and the natural healing process after childbirth.
- Hormonal changes. The primary cause of postpartum vaginal dryness is hormonal changes that occur during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body experiences an increase in estrogen and progesterone levels, which help prepare the uterus for the growing fetus. After giving birth, these hormone levels drop significantly, causing a decrease in natural vaginal lubrication. This sudden change can lead to dryness and discomfort.
- Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can also contribute to postpartum vaginal dryness. Prolactin, a hormone responsible for milk production, can suppress estrogen production in the body. Lower estrogen levels can, in turn, cause the vaginal tissues to become thinner and less elastic, leading to dryness.
- Natural healing process. The natural healing process after childbirth can also cause temporary vaginal dryness. As your body recovers from the delivery, it may take some time for the vaginal tissues to regain their pre-pregnancy elasticity and moisture levels.
Managing Postpartum Vaginal Dryness
Fortunately, there are several effective ways to manage and alleviate postpartum vaginal dryness. These include:
- Vaginal lubricants and moisturisers. Using over-the-counter vaginal lubricants and moisturisers can provide immediate relief from dryness and discomfort. Lubricants, such as water-based or silicone-based products, can be applied right before sexual activity to reduce friction and discomfort. Vaginal moisturisers, on the other hand, can be used regularly to maintain moisture levels in the vagina.
- Hormone therapy. In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend hormone therapy to address postpartum vaginal dryness. This may include the use of topical estrogen creams, suppositories, or vaginal rings, which can help restore the vaginal tissues’ moisture and elasticity. Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any hormone therapy.
- Pelvic floor exercises. Performing pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the vagina and improve blood flow to the area. This increased blood flow can promote healing and help maintain vaginal moisture. To perform Kegel exercises, simply tighten the pelvic floor muscles as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine, hold for a few seconds, and then release. Repeat this exercise several times a day.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also help improve postpartum vaginal dryness. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can help keep your body functioning optimally, while staying well-hydrated can promote overall skin and tissue health. Regular exercise can also improve blood circulation and contribute to better vaginal health.
- Taking your time. Remember that your body needs time to heal after childbirth. Be patient with yourself and give your body the time it needs to recover. It is normal for it to take several months or even longer for vaginal dryness to resolve completely. During this time, communicate openly with your partner about your comfort levels and any concerns you may have. Prioritising non-penetrative forms of intimacy can help maintain a close connection while allowing your body to heal.
- Seeking professional help. If postpartum vaginal dryness persists or worsens despite trying these self-care measures, it may be helpful to consult with a healthcare professional. A gynaecologist or pelvic floor therapist can provide additional guidance and treatment options tailored to your individual needs.
Postpartum vaginal dryness is a common issue that many new moms face. Understanding the causes behind this condition and taking proactive steps to manage it can help alleviate discomfort and promote overall vaginal health. By using vaginal lubricants and moisturisers, considering hormone therapy, performing pelvic floor exercises, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and giving yourself time to heal, you can effectively manage postpartum vaginal dryness.
As you navigate the challenges of new motherhood, it’s important to prioritise your own health and well-being. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for guidance and support. Remember that you are not alone, and many other new moms are also experiencing postpartum vaginal dryness. By addressing this issue and taking the necessary steps to manage it, you can ensure a smoother transition into motherhood and a happier, more comfortable postpartum experience.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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