The vagina will be itchy and inflamed if not lubricated. The most common vaginal dryness that I deal with is women after menopause where up to 40% of the post menopausal women suffer from it. This may make daily activities as simple as walking uncomfortable and sexual intercourse less pleasurable.
There are over 100,000 chemicals in use in the United States and some of them pretend to act like estrogen. These chemicals are known as xenoestrogens. Xeno means foreign. So these chemicals that pretend to be estrogen are called xenoestrogens. There are three types of NATURAL estrogen, estradiol, estriol, and estrone that a woman's body makes. These natural estrogens fit into the estrogen receptor and stimulate the receptor. Estrone and estriol stimulate the receptor WEAKLY. Estradiol stimulates the receptor STRONGLY. Xenoestrogens can stimulate the receptor STRANGELY even causing cancers such as breast cancer and endometrial cancer. Xenoestrogens can BLOCK the receptor or even get partial responses.
Prescription birth control pills are synthetic chemically modified progesterones and estrogens. They must be chemically modified to be patented. They must be patented to have a high profit margin so that no one else can use them. Because they are chemically modified they may have startling different effects from the original hormone. These side effects may include cancer. A brand name prescription synthetic Progestin causes birth defects (see any Physicians Desk Reference). However, Natural Progesterone bioidentical to the progesterone that a woman's body produces is routinely used by Fertility Medical Doctors to prevent miscarriage does NOT cause birth defects. To learn more about the difference between Progestins and Natural Progesterone click here.
It is thought that these aberrant xenoestrogens that include birth control pills will bind to the estrogen receptors in the vaginal tissue and create problems.
In contrast, Natural Progesterone and Natural Estriol are the hormones of pregnancy. Natural Progesterone continues to increase throughout the entire pregnancy maintaining the pregnancy. Natural Estriol goes up 100 times in concentration during pregnancy. Natural Estriol toughens up the birth canal and vaginal tissue so the baby can pass through it. It is a well known established medical observation that multiply pregnant women have a smaller chance of breast cancer and endometrial cancer. And pregnant women have high levels of natural estriol and natural progesterone. Estriol is thought to bind to the estrogen receptor and block out all the other xenoestrogens.
In contrast, synthetic brand name prescription estrogens cause cancer according to the Physicians Desk Reference and several government studies.
Quote from John Lee, MD "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Menopause" pages 256-258.
Vaginal Dryness After Menopause
"After menopause, vaginal dryness and reduced mucous production predispose women to vaginal, urethral, and urinary bladder infections. To treat whatever is causing the infection with antibiotics is only temporarily successful (and sometimes not at all successful) because the underlying and real cause of the problem is the inability of these parts of the body to resist infection, which is caused by a hormonal imbalance. For this reason, using a vaginal application of an estrogen often works very well to restore hormone balance, with estriol being the most effective. A recent controlled trial of intravaginal estriol in postmenopausal women with recurrent urinary tract infections found that estriol significantly reduced the incidence of urinary tract infections compared to placebo (0.5 versus 5.9 episodes per year). In additions, estriol treatment resulted in the reemergence of friendly Lactobacilli bacteria and the near elimination of colon bacteria, as well as the restoration of normal vaginal mucosa and the a resumption of normal low pH (which inhibits the growth of many bacteria).
Natural Estriol is the estrogen most beneficial to vaginal and cervical tissue, the sites that act as the first line of defense against infection. Estriol is a product of estrone metabolism. Contraceptive synthetic estrogens, which inhibit the production of natural hormones, do NOT contain estriol and are not metabolized to form estriol. Progestins similarly inhibit the function of natural progesterone. (Progestins are synthetic prescription brand name hormones).
After menopause, progesterone levels fall to near zero and estrone levels are also very low. Thus, the protection against infection offered by estriol and progesterone is lost unless natural hormones are used in supplementation.
Vaginitis Before Menopause
Vaginitis occurs more often among women taking contraceptive pills. One might argue that taking contraceptive pills implies more frequent sexual activity and therefore such women are more exposed to infectious organisms. Perhaps so, but one could also argue that contraceptive pills prevent the normal hormone-generated mucus from being produced to protect them. After all, birth control pills work by suppressing normal hormones.
The Solution for Vaginal Dryness After Menopause - use Over the Counter Topical Natural Progesterone.
In my care of postmenopausal patients, there are those for whom estrogens are contraindicated by reason of a history of breast or uterine cancer and who are at risk of a history of recurrent urinary tract and vaginal infections. I have been surprised to observe that those who opted for natural progesterone therapy have been remarkably free of these problems. Further, in many, their previous vaginal dryness and reduced mucous production returns to normal after three to four months of Natural Progesterone use. This suggests that natural progesterone also provides a direct benefit to vaginal and urethral tissues or may sensitize tissue receptors to the lowered levels of estrogens still present in post menopausal women."
Summary of John Lee, MD's information.
Before Menopause - Vaginitis and recurrent urinary tract infections.
After Menopause - Vaginal dryness.
I routinely use the avoidance xenoestrogens and Topical Natural Progesterone 20-60 mg/day in my post menopausal patients for vaginal dryness. Natural Estriol is the estrogen of pregnancy. Intravaginal topical natural estriol 0.5 mg every other day routinely solves the vaginal atrophy. Vaginal atrophy is thinning of the vaginal tissue and manifests by bleeding upon sexual intercourse.
Natural Progesterone increases lubrication.
Natural Estriol thickens the vaginal skin.