Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Two girls at a swimming pool.

Two girls at a swimming pool.
beginning of content

Vaginal dryness

Vaginal moisture is mainly produced at the top of the vagina by the cervix. The moisture is slightly acidic in order to fight against infections, such as thrush.

When women have sex, two glands (called Bartholin’s glands) produce extra moisture in order to provide good lubrication during intercourse. However, lack of moisture during sex can become a problem. There can be a number of reasons for this, such as:

  • lack of foreplay
  • not feeling aroused
  • relationship problems
  • feelings of guilt or worry
  • as a result of breastfeeding, as oestrogen levels are low.

Many women find vaginal dryness a problem after the menopause as a result of the lack of oestrogen in their bodies. As a result of this, the vagina loses elasticity and the lining becomes thinner and dryer. Further irritation can also occur as the vagina becomes less acidic and loses some of the bacteria used to fight against infections.

Causes of vaginal dryness

A dry vagina can be treated fairly easily by using lubrications. Water based lubricants can be used for intercourse. These are available to buy at your local pharmacy or supermarket and you do not need a prescription. Non water based lubricants can damage condoms.

Any woman can be affected by vaginal dryness, although it is most common in women who have experienced the menopause. It affects over half of 51-60 year olds. Around a quarter of women aged between 50-59 experience dryness during sex and some women experience pain. If you are in pain, get advice on medicines you can take.

There are a number of reasons why vaginal dryness may occur. These include:

  • stress
  • not enough foreplay or arousal
  • use of hygiene products, such as feminine sprays and harsh soaps
  • swimming pool and hot tub chemicals
  • washing powders
  • breastfeeding
  • low levels of oestrogen.

Certain medicines, such as allergy treatments or antidepressants, can also dry the vagina and vaginal tissues.

Pre-menopausal women who have had their ovaries removed during a hysterectomy may also have a dry vagina as a result of a loss of hormones. People who have had chemotherapy may also experience this.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your vaginal dryness, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 33 results

Vaginal oestrogen cream: Ask a Health Question | Women's Health Queensland Wide

Our Health Information Line receives calls and emails from women on a broad range of health issues. This regular column features answers to some of them.

Read more on Women's Health Queensland Wide website

Sjogren's syndrome

Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease that mainly affects the eyes and salivary glands, but can affect different parts of the body. Symptoms include dry and itchy eyes, a dry mouth, thirst and swallowing difficulties. Although there is no cure, proper treatment should provide comfort and relief.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the womb (uterus), with or without the cervix. The operation may also be with or without the removal of the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Menopause Women Continence Foundation of Australia

Menopause is a time of change in a woman's life. One of the changes many women notice is increased difficulty with bladder and bowel control.

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Hysterectomy fact sheet | Women's Health Queensland Wide

A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus. Depending on the type of hysterectomy being performed, accompanying organs such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries and cervix are often removed at the same time.

Read more on Women's Health Queensland Wide website

Endometrin Pessaries - myDr.com.au

Endometrin Pessaries - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Uterine Cancer - Targeting Cancer

About Radiation Oncology What is Radiation Oncology? What is Radiation Therapy? Benefits and Effectiveness Side Effects Treatment Process Radiation Oncology Team Radiation Oncologists Radiation Therapists Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists Radiation Oncology Nurses GPs/Health Professionals FAQs Radiation Therapy External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) Brachytherapy Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer Brachytherapy for Cervix Cancer Brachytherapy for Uterine Cancer Treatment By Cancer Type Benign Disease Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) Pituitary Adenoma Meningioma Thyroid Eye Disease Vestibular Schwannoma (Acoustic Neuroma) Bladder Cancer Brain Cancer Breast Cancer Cervix Cancer Colorectal Cancer Head and Neck Cancer Leukaemia Liver Cancer Lung Cancer Lymphoma Oesophageal Cancer Pancreatic Cancer Palliative Treatment Prostate Cancer Sarcomas Skin Cancer and Melanoma Stomach Cancer Thyroid Cancer Upper Gastro-Intestinal Cancer Uterine Cancer Our Stories Supporter Statements Patient Stories Treatment Team Videos about Radiation Therapy Talking To Your Doctor About Radiation Oncology What is Radiation Oncology? What is Radiation Therapy? Benefits and Effectiveness Side Effects Treatment Process Radiation Oncology Team Radiation Oncologists Radiation Therapists Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists Radiation Oncology Nurses GPs/Health Professionals FAQs Radiation Therapy External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) Brachytherapy Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer Brachytherapy for Cervix Cancer Brachytherapy for Uterine Cancer Treatment By Cancer Type Benign Disease Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) Pituitary Adenoma Meningioma Thyroid Eye Disease Vestibular Schwannoma (Acoustic Neuroma) Bladder Cancer Brain Cancer Breast Cancer Cervix Cancer Colorectal Cancer Head and Neck Cancer Leukaemia Liver Cancer Lung Cancer Lymphoma Oesophageal Cancer Pancreatic Cancer Palliative Treatment Prostate Cancer Sarcomas Skin Cancer and Melanoma Stomach Cancer Thyroid Cancer Upper Gastro-Intestinal Cancer Uterine Cancer Our Stories Supporter Statements Patient Stories Treatment Team Videos about Radiation Therapy Talking To Your Doctor Uterine Cancer Uterine cancer is cancer of the uterus (or womb)

Read more on Radiation Oncology Targeting Cancer website

About menopause fact sheet | Women's Health Queensland Wide

Each woman's experience of menopause is unique and most women will experience some type of symptom in addition to the ending of their menstrual period. This fact sheet explains menopause and offers some helpful coping strategies for women.

Read more on Women's Health Queensland Wide website

Sjogren's Syndrome | Diagnosis, Symptoms, Treatment (formerly Arthritis Victoria) - MOVE

MOVE muscle, bone & joint health (formerly Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria) is a national charity dedicated to improve the quality of life of people with, or at risk of developing, muscle, bone and joint conditions.

Read more on MOVE muscle, bone & joint health website

Vulval problems - myDr.com.au

Vulval discomfort or pain is common and can interfere with a woman's self image and sexual function as well as cause distress.

Read more on myDr website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback