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Vaginal dryness

5-minute read

Key facts

  • Vaginal dryness is a common problem, especially after menopause.
  • The most common cause of vaginal dryness is lower levels of oestrogen.
  • Vaginal dryness can cause burning, itching and pain during sex.
  • When you have vaginal dryness, you may need to urinate (wee) more often than usual or keep getting urinary tract infections.

What is vaginal dryness?

Vaginal dryness is when the normal moisture is missing from your vagina.

Vaginal dryness is most common in females who have gone through menopause. It affects more than 1 in 2 females after menopause.

More than 1 in 3 females aged between 57 and 69 years report vaginal dryness. However, most don’t talk to their doctor about it.

What are the symptoms of vaginal dryness?

You may have vaginal dryness if you:

You may also keep getting urinary tract infections (UTIs). These things may make you feel less like you want to have sex.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes vaginal dryness?

The most common cause of vaginal dryness is lower levels of oestrogen. Oestrogen is the female hormone that maintains the vaginal lining and tissue elasticity.

Vaginal dryness occurs when your body does not produce enough oestrogen. This can be due to changes in your hormone levels caused by:

Vaginal dryness can also be caused by:

  • the use of hygiene products, such as feminine sprays and harsh soaps
  • an underlying condition, such as diabetes
  • not enough foreplay or arousal before sex

When should I see my doctor?

You may be reluctant to talk to your doctor, but there are treatments that can ease your discomfort.

See your doctor if you've had vaginal dryness for a few weeks and things you've tried yourself are not working.

You should also see your doctor if:

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

How is vaginal dryness diagnosed?

You doctor will talk with you about your symptoms. They may also examine you.

Tests are not usually needed unless you have other symptoms that need to be checked.

How is vaginal dryness treated?

Talk to your doctor about what can be done to help, including possible medicines you can take.

Lubricants and vaginal moisturisers

Lubricants and vaginal moisturisers can ease the symptoms of a dry vagina. You don’t need a prescription for these treatments. You can buy these products at your local pharmacy or supermarket.

You may want to consider using a vaginal moisturiser 2 to 3 times a week.

Use water-based lubricants when having sex. This is because non-water based lubricants can damage condoms.

Menopausal hormone therapy

If you have vaginal dryness because of changes in your hormone levels around the time of menopause, your doctor may suggest menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

MHT can be given as:

  • creams
  • gels
  • patches

Talk to your doctor about your options.

Can vaginal dryness be prevented?

There are things that you can do that will help with vaginal dryness. Do not use:

  • perfumed soaps, washes and any douches in and around your vagina
  • bubble baths, bath salts and scented oils
  • adult wipes or baby wipes around your vagina
  • very hot water when showering or in the bath
  • moisturisers that are not for your vagina
  • creams or lotions like petroleum jelly inside your vagina, as they can cause an infection

You may also want to wear underwear that is 100% cotton and avoid tight-fitting clothes.

Resources and support

To find out more about vaginal dryness, you can call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2023

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