As if being pregnant wasn’t hard enough already, a majority of women also experience vaginal dryness when they are expecting. While this is a very normal reaction to the hormonal changes going on in a woman’s body during pregnancy, dryness down there is usually nothing to stress about. For most women, the dryness will eventually resolve on its own after the baby is born.
Some of the most common symptoms of vaginal dryness during pregnancy and after include feeling sore, dry or itchy in or around the vagina. Experiencing pain during sex, peeing frequently and even having recurring UTIs (urinary tract infections) are also signs of vaginal dryness. A Woman can have one, or all of these symptoms, and the dryness and irritation can fluctuate between the three trimesters. Most women report that their vaginal dryness is the worst during the first trimester when the majority of the hormone changes occur.
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
One of the main causes of pregnancy-related vaginal dryness is the decrease in estrogen levels. Libido changes during pregnancy (which are also very normal) can also contribute to vaginal dryness. Even post-pregnancy, vaginal dryness may continue since estrogen levels drop even more after giving birth. Most women see an improvement in vaginal dryness when their period returns and estrogen levels have returned to normal levels.
How to Relieve Vaginal Dryness
So, what can you do to alleviate this sometimes pesky and bothersome symptom? Other than waiting until after you’re done breastfeeding your baby (if you plan on doing that) when estrogen levels go back up, there are ways to restore vaginal moisture during pregnancy and even postpartum. Dr. Cynthia Abraham, a New York based obstetrician–gynecologist recommends using a vaginal moisturizer, vaginal lubricant, or a combination of both to help restore moisture inside or around the vagina. She also recommends that women opt for water-based lubricants, as opposed to oil-based ones, since those can further increase irritation and dryness.
If you’re pregnant and your vaginal dryness is accompanied by extreme itching, bleeding after sex, persistent vaginal swelling or painful intercourse, it would be best to see your doctor to rule out other medical conditions. Sometimes dryness and itchiness is nothing more than a yeast infection, but other times it can be something more serious like an STI (sexually transmitted infection), which can pose a threat to your unborn baby. Pregnancy is definitely not a time when you want to ignore these symptoms, especially if you have had them for a while or they get worse.