The condition where the vagina becomes dry due to insufficient secretions is called vaginal dryness. 

The vagina is an elastic, muscular organ of the female reproductive system. Vaginal walls, which are membranous in nature, are lined by a thin layer of moisture that helps in lubrication. 

Natural lubrication (secretions) keeps your vagina healthy and helps in reducing friction during sexual intercourse. The vaginal secretions also provide an alkaline environment for the survival of the sperm (the male reproductive cell) and enable it to travel further for fertilization [the process where a sperm fuses with an egg (the female reproductive cell)]. 

Vaginal dryness is seen in women of all ages but is more common in older women. As women age, the vaginal walls become thinner and the secretions reduce, causing vaginal dryness. Hormonal changes in women are the most common cause of vaginal dryness. However, there are multiple other causes that can lead to this condition. Let’s take a look at them.

Here are some common factors that may lead to vaginal dryness:

1. Hormonal changes: A decrease in the estrogen (primary female sex hormone) level that occurs during menopause (the time that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle) is one of the most common causes of vaginal dryness. 

The decrease in estrogen may also occur during perimenopause (the time around menopause), during breastfeeding, or after childbirth. Radiation and chemotherapy, as a part of cancer treatment, may also result in a decrease in vaginal lubrication by causing alterations in estrogen production.

2. Irritants: Chemicals present in soaps, dyes, hygiene products, and perfumes may cause allergies in some women. Irritants present in your underwear or towels, continuous use of female hygiene products such as washes and lubricants, and other objects inserted into the vagina for sexual pleasure, can all cause irritation and dry out the secretions, causing vaginal dryness. 

3. Insufficient Arousal: Low libido (low sex drive) or other sexual problems may also lead to vaginal dryness. Low sex drive means low estrogen levels that can lead to vaginal dryness. 

Poor sexual performance and early ejaculation [discharge of semen (the organic fluid that contains sperms) during sexual intercourse] may also contribute to low arousal and hence, vaginal dryness.

4. Anxiety: Sexual desire can be affected by emotional and psychological factors such as anxiety and stress, which may eventually lead to vaginal dryness. High anxiety levels in women result in an insufficient flow of blood to the vagina, causing vaginal dryness.

5. Certain Medications: Medications such as antihistamines (anti-allergy medications) and antidepressants (medications used to treat anxiety and depression), reduce your body’s secretions and can eventually result in vaginal dryness. 

Certain asthma medications are also known to have a drying effect on your body, especially in the mouth and the vagina.

6. Excessive Cigarette Smoking: Excessive smoking of cigarettes can affect blood flow in your body, including the vaginal region. This can further lead to a reduced libido, lower sexual arousal, and lubrication, resulting in extreme vaginal dryness.

While vaginal dryness is a common condition, it is necessary for you to consult your gynaecologist and get yourself checked for other vaginal infections.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.