Is Your Birth Control Making You Dry?
Vaginal dryness might be an unintended side effect of birth control. Here's an explanation.
Have you ever started a new birth control, and then noticed that things started feeling a little…off? Turns out, you aren’t the only one! More women are noticing vaginal dryness as a result of their birth control regimen. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of things you can do to start feeling better.
How is vaginal dryness is linked to birth control?
Although vaginal dryness is most commonly associated with menopausal women (like the two-thirds of women over 60 who list dryness as one of their top sexual health problems!), it can actually happen to women of all ages. Typical symptoms of dryness are discomfort, itching or burning, and pain during sex. Some women experience day-to-day discomfort, while others only notice when they aren’t able to get wet before or during sex.
For some time, it seemed nobody was talking about the correlation between birth control and vaginal dryness—we were too busy talking about other symptoms, like weight gain and acne—but now, more and more physicians are recognizing the link between the two. As Lauren Streicher, M.D., shared in this article, "between three and five percent of women on low-dose birth control pills experience vaginal dryness."
Why? In short: hormones. Specifically, estrogen. Estrogen helps keep the tissues of your vagina lubricated, and birth control pills may cause changes in estrogen levels that lead to dryness. According to SELF magazine, lowering the "amount of estrogen circulating in your body will reduce blood flow to the tissue, resulting in dryness of either the vagina or vulva." Yikes!
Does all birth control cause dryness?
Fortunately, no, but several different methods can. Although the pill seems to be the biggest offender—specifically, combination pills like YAZ—other forms of hormonal birth control can lead to dryness as well.
Non-hormonal birth control methods, like the copper IUD or the minipill, should not lead to vaginal dryness that the pill can sometimes cause.
I’m suffering from dryness. What should I do?
If these symptoms sound familiar, you are not alone. The first step you should take when experiencing vaginal dryness is to consult your doctor. Your physician or healthcare provider can help determine the root cause. If it is a result of your birth control, they can help you find a non-hormonal birth control to replace your current method.
There are things you can do at home, too. Some women report success is treating vaginal dryness with natural remedies and dietary changes.
If you aren’t experiencing daily discomfort, but are having trouble getting wet in the bedroom, try slowing sex down and spending more time on foreplay.
Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family. In her new book, "Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy," she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative advice. It has been called "the essential guide for relationships." The book is available on ebook. Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13-23 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can follow her on Google+