Can Birth Control Cause Vaginal Dryness? | LOLA

Can Birth Control Cause Vaginal Dryness? | LOLA

When Alice*, 31, first went on the birth control pill YAZ, she noticed an immediate change in her body. "There was noticeably a lot of vaginal dryness once I started the birth control [pill]," she says. Alice only took the pill for another two months before stopping. "Once I realized the birth control pill was causing this issue, I immediately went off of it," she says. "The dryness completely went away. It made me never use [the pill] again!"

Alice isn't an outlier; this side effect is actually pretty common, but isn't often talked about. 

Do birth control pills cause vaginal dryness?

Yes, birth control pills–particularly the ones that contain estrogen or synthetic progesterone–can mess with your hormones and cause vaginal dryness. In women’s bodies, estrogen is the hormone responsible for keeping your vaginal tissues moist and lubricated. 

However, the birth control pill causes estrogen levels to drop, reducing the amount of blood flow to the vagina. This causes your vaginal tissues to shrink, resulting in vaginal dryness and inflammation. 

Vaginal dryness shows up in different ways. Some symptoms include more frequent UTIs, soreness and itchiness in your vulvar regions, a dip in libido, more painful sex which can lead to light bleeding, and irritation when wearing your underwear. 

According to research, the biggest culprit is the combination pill (like YAZ, which Alice was taking). In one study of 260 women, 12.7 percent of users reported dryness after three cycles of a combination pill containing 20 micrograms of ethinylestradiol and 100 micrograms of levonorgestrel, and 30.4 percent had dryness with a combination pill containing 15 micrograms of ethinylestradiol and 60 micrograms of gestodene. 

It gets even more complicated when you remember that not every pill is created equal. YAZ, for example, contains 20 micrograms of synthetic estrogen, ethinylestradiol, while Ortho-Tri Cyclen contains 35 micrograms. And the level of estrogen in your birth control isn't the only factor. Everyone has different sensitivities to hormones and a different balance of hormones to begin with. That's why you might be on the same birth control pill as your bestie but have totally different side effects (or lack thereof).

Do other forms of birth control cause dryness?

Like the birth control pill, other forms of hormonal birth control–like patches, shots, and rings–can also cause vaginal dryness. The basic concept is this: as long as you’re using a type of hormonal birth control, you run the risk of changing your vagina’s lubrication content.

However, among all the different types of hormonal birth control, the pill is the most notorious for causing vaginal dryness. Here’s an example. Compared to the 12.7% of users who reported vaginal dryness after being on the YAZ combination pill, only 2.1% of NuvaRing users reported dryness after three cycles. 

 Why is the pill more likely to cause vaginal dryness than, say, the ring, you ask? The ring has a lower level of synthetic estrogen, the hormone that prevents ovulation, than the pill. When you have a high ratio of estrogen to progesterone in the body, you get what's called "estrogen dominance," which can cause PMS-like symptoms including water retention, heavy periods, and yep, dryness, thanks to your body not producing enough lubrication.

Can IUDs cause vaginal dryness?

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) come in two types: non-hormonal copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. Copper IUDs don’t contain any hormones, so they don’t mess with your estrogen levels and aren’t known to cause vaginal dryness. However, if you’re using hormonal IUDs, then you may experience some hormonal side effects, including vaginal dryness. 

Is there a treatment for vaginal dryness?

Yes, vaginal dryness can be treated through a host of different methods. However, be aware that hormonal birth control may not be the only thing causing your dry vagina. 

How do I fix vaginal dryness from birth control?

Yes, your birth control could be causing your vagina to feel dry and irritated. But what do you do when it’s the only option that has proven to be effective and you just don’t want to give it up? Here are some ways in which you can fix your vaginal dryness, instead. 

  • Drink enough water and hydrating fluids
  • Use a vaginal moisturizer every few days
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes and underwear and choose underwear that’s made of 100% cotton to increase breathability and decrease itchiness or irritation
  • Avoid feminine hygiene products that contain harmful chemicals and fragrances. Your best bet is to choose organic, hypoallergenic products made with natural ingredients
  • Engage in adequate foreplay before intercourse to let your arousal build up and/ or use a water-based vaginal lubricant
  • Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol as they can dry out the moisture from all over your body
  • Use panty liners, pads, period panties, or menstrual cups instead of a tampon, because the latter can absorb the moisture from your vagina, leaving you feeling even more dry
  • Consult a doctor and get a prescription for one of these: estrogen gels or creams, estrogen tablets, or a vaginal ring that releases estrogen. They may also recommend a different pill (or patch or ring), or suggest a non-hormonal or progesterone-releasing IUD

Take control vaginal dryness with LOLA’s hypoallergenic lubricant, formulated with natural ingredients. It’s silky smooth, long-lasting, and pH-balanced. [Buy Now]

Beat vaginal dryness with LOLA

Vaginal dryness can be a common side effect of using any form of hormonal birth control. But that doesn’t mean you have to live your life with your vagina feeling dryer than the Sahara, leaving your private parts itchy and irritated. There are several options to take care of this problem, including lifestyle changes and medical treatments. 

Try out one of the fixes from above, consult a gynecologist, and you’ll likely feel things getting wet and moist pretty soon. Just don't be afraid to speak up. Left unaddressed, vaginal dryness can  mess with your sexy time and cause discomfort in your everyday life. 

To keep things feeling smooth and soothing all day long, use LOLA’s range of gynecologist-approved feminine hygiene products, formulated with clean ingredients. [Shop Now]

*Name was changed for privacy

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