Tips for Dealing With Vaginal Dryness in Sjogren’s Syndrome

Tips for Dealing With Vaginal Dryness in Sjogren’s Syndrome
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Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that causes symptoms such as dryness in the mouth and throateyesskin, and other organs, including those in the reproductive system. The body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the secretory glands, leading to reduced secretion and causing irritation, soreness, and pain.

Vaginal dryness is a common symptom in pre- and post-menopausal women with Sjogren’s syndrome. It can cause soreness or itching around the vagina, pain or discomfort during intercourse (dyspareunia), the urge to urinate more than usual, or frequent urinary tract infections.

Here are some tips for dealing with vaginal dryness if you have been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome.

Identify the cause of vaginal dryness

Generally, due to lower levels of estrogen hormone, post-menopausal women experience vaginal dryness, which can be worse in those with Sjogren’s syndrome.

Vaginal dryness can also be caused by breastfeeding or certain medications such as antidepressants, chemotherapy, and contraceptives.

Avoid perfumed soaps and gels

The vagina has a mechanism of automatically cleaning itself via natural secretions. Do not use perfumed soaps, gels, douches, and antiseptics to clean your vagina as these can disturb normal vaginal bacteria and affect pH levels, resulting in dryness.

A bathing routine using plain, unscented soap to gently wash the area around the vagina should be enough to maintain proper hygiene.

Try vaginal moisturizers and lubricants

Vaginal moisturizers such as Replens and lubricants such as Astroglide are available over-the-counter and can be applied directly to the vagina to keep it moist and minimize painful intercourse.

Consider estrogen therapy

Your gynecologist can prescribe an estrogen topical cream (Estrace), tablet (Vagifem), or ring (Estring) to treat symptoms of vaginal dryness associated with Sjogren’s syndrome. If you’re a current or past breast cancer patient, consult your doctor before using topical estrogen therapies.

Practice safe sex

Unprotected sex carries the risk of catching sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis, which can affect the vagina and cause dryness. Using condoms during sex can help prevent the transmission of such infections.

Undergo cervical screening

If symptoms of vaginal dryness persist, consult a gynecologist. Cervical screening can identify, and treat or remove any abnormalities, such as pre-cancerous cells that may lead to cervical cancer.

 

Last updated: Jan. 30, 2020

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Sjogren’s Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.

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