How To Cure Vaginal Dryness During Pregnancy, According To Experts
Pregnancy can change your body in a ton of unexpected ways. Not immune to these changes is your vagina. (Oh yeah, and we're talking unexpected ways before a baby comes flying out of it.) Vaginal changes like decreased moisture can be annoying at best, but knowing how to cure vaginal dryness during pregnancy can help you get through it.
If you are feeling a little dry down there, you can blame it on your pregnancy hormones — namely progesterone. “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.
During pregnancy, your hormones can also fluctuate rapidly, which can cause some amount of vaginal dryness or irritation. Even when not pregnant, some women experience vaginal dryness for a variety of reasons. But, during pregnancy, Johnson explains that “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.”
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.
All women and all pregnancies are different, and the fluctuation in hormones affect everyone in different ways, which can actually cause more than just vaginal dryness. “Women may also experience an increase in discharge because this is how the body protects the uterus and the baby inside from infection,” Johnson tells Romper.
But when dryness does occur, it can make sexual activity uncomfortable, leaving pregnant women struggling for a solution to this common problem. Deena Blumenfeld, childbirth educator and doula, recommends women use a lubricant if sex is uncomfortable due to dryness. “Although most women will experience more vaginal discharge and lubrication during pregnancy, some will have the opposite state,” Blumenfeld tells Romper.
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.
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 tells Romper. “So don't hesitate to use a moisturizer with a lubricant as needed.”
To remedy vaginal dryness while breastfeeding, the solutions are similar to those used during pregnancy. “Replens (a vaginal moisturizer and lubricant) is over the counter and non hormonal, so do feel comfortable using it,” Dr. Minkin explains. “And do keep up your fluid intake”
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 is 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.
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