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Here's What To Do About Vaginal Dryness In Pregnancy (& Why It Happens)

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Is there no symptom pregnancy can’t cause?

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From the moment you spy those two little lines on a pregnancy test, your life (and your body) will never be the same. But of all the changes you’re bound to go through during those nine months (hello, stretch marks and heartburn), your vagina’s transformation might be most surprising — and that’s even before your baby is born. Since changes in your lady parts aren’t entirely uncommon, you’ll want to know how to cure vaginal dryness during pregnancy, because it can be uncomfortable.

If you’re pregnant and panicking that you might have to deal with a dry vag on top of feeling nauseous, you shouldn’t worry too much. As it turns out, vaginal dryness isn’t something that all pregnant women go through. “Vaginal dryness during early pregnancy is not too terribly common at all, and that’s good news,” Dr. Lauren Demosthens, MD, an OB/GYN and senior medical director with Babyscripts tells Romper. “The vagina creates its own moisture in response to estrogen, and that hormone is present during pregnancy.” Still, if you’re dealing with vaginal dryness, it’s important to know why it’s happening and how to possibly prevent it.

Here’s What Causes Vaginal Dryness During Pregnancy

If you do find that it’s somewhat Sahara-esque in your nether region, blame it on those lovely pregnancy hormones. When it comes to hormones, there are two main pregnancy players: estrogen and progesterone, and it’s the latter that can often be the culprit. “It is the predominance of progesterone in the body that causes vaginal dryness,” Alicia Johnson, certified nurse midwife at Lone Tree OB-GYN and Midwives in Denver tells Romper. Progesterone is particularly important during pregnancy, since it helps your uterus become ready for the fertilized egg to implant properly, What To Expect reported. And estrogen helps keep your vagina nice and lubed, even helping with its elasticity and thickness, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reported.

Pregnancy hormones apart, some women experience vaginal dryness for a variety of reasons. “Many things can impact vaginal dryness including dehydration and use of medications such as antihistamines that dry out mucous membranes in the body, all over the body,” says Johnson.

Sometimes, vaginal dryness can also occur as a result of vaginitis, OB/GYN Dr. Kim Langdon, MD, tells Romper. “The microbiome of the vagina may change enough to cause vaginal dryness or a vaginitis could cause dryness,” says Dr. Langdon. Vaginitis can happen when your vagina’s normal balance of bacteria is disturbed, the Mayo Clinic reported. It can also be due to an infection, and in either case, you should contact your health care provider to schedule an exam.

You Should Drink Lots Of Water To Prevent Vaginal Dryness

To combat vaginal dryness during pregnancy, staying hydrated can help. “Dehydration can certainly be playing a role and we really don't want pregnant women to get dehydrated,” Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of OB-GYN at Yale University, tells Romper. “Remember that the circulating fluid volume during pregnancy is about 50% increased over a woman's baseline — so fluid is always important.” It’s important to keep yourself well hydrated and avoid taking in too much caffeine or other foods that can dehydrate you while pregnant.

Thankfully, There Are Products That Can Help With Vaginal Dryness And Pregnancy

Having sex with your partner can become a problem (and ugh, painful) if your vagina is dry. That’s where purchasing some products can help restore lubrication and make sex satisfying. “The most commonly recommended lubricants are the ones that are water-based and natural — no extra chemicals to provide scent, taste or heat,” Dr. Demosthens advises. “The ones that are not water based may cause some pH changes in the vagina which can increase the chance of vaginal infections, so try to stay away from those.” And don’t worry about how those over-the-counter vaginal lubricants can potentially affect your baby. Says Dr. Demosthens: “The baby is protected by the amniotic sac and the strong uterus, and many OTC lubricants are readily available and safe to use.”

Johnson says that pregnant women can also use coconut oil to help moisturize the vagina to combat vaginal dryness. Coconut oil “can be used inside and out,” Johnson notes. She also tells Romper that pregnant women who use lubricants should choose ones that do not have glycerine listed as the first ingredient. “Lubricants with glycerine feed bad bacteria in the vagina and can lead to pH imbalances,” she explains.

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Vaginal Dryness Doesn’t Stop When You Give Birth

If you thought that vaginal dryness would end after your baby is born, think again. In fact, many more women experience it postpartum, Dr. Langdon says. “It’s uncommon to have vaginal dryness during pregnancy because estrogen levels are so high and there is more moisture and mucus during pregnancy,” says Dr. Langdon. “That’s why you see it more common during breastfeeding since the estrogen level drops.”

Additionally, Dr. Minkin explains that vaginal dryness may also occur post-pregnancy for breastfeeding moms thanks again to hormone fluctuations. “The hormone from the pituitary gland called prolactin, which helps keep up milk production, also can lower your estrogen levels (and estrogen is responsible for vaginal moisture),” Dr. Minkin explains. “So don't hesitate to use a moisturizer with a lubricant as needed.”

While vaginal dryness can be annoying, if it is accompanied by pain or spotting, it’s a good idea to give your practitioner a call. “If it’s a major problem, talk to your doctor or midwife,” Blumenfeld explains. They can evaluate your condition, and advise you on the best remedies or treatment for your specific situation. Until then, look to some lube for some relief.

Experts:

Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of OB-GYN at Yale University

Alicia Johnson, MSN, RNC-EFM, certified nurse midwife at Lone Tree OB-GYN and Midwives

Deena Blumenfeld, childbirth educator, doula, MPH candidate at University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Kim Langdon, MD, an OB/GYN

Dr. Lauren Demosthens, MD, an OB/GYN and senior medical director with Babyscripts

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