Vaginal dryness can affect women of all ages and for many reasons. There are some normal body functions that can disrupt the process of oestrogen production, which in turn can result in vaginal dryness. There are, however, a number of other reasons women can develop vaginal dryness.
Strep infection is a separate condition from vaginal dryness and is referred to as Group B strep. The bacteria causing strep infection is present in 10 per cent to 35 per cent of all healthy women. This bacterial infection is commonly found in the intestine, vagina, and/or rectal area of women. While usually harmless to healthy adults, women with diabetes or liver disease can develop dangerous infections from Group B strep.
For healthy women, Group B strep becomes an issue mainly at childbirth, when it can be passed on to the baby, causing fever and even critical illness.
What is Vaginal Dryness
Most vaginal lubrication consists of clear fluid that seeps through the walls of the blood vessels encircling the vagina. During sexual arousal, more blood flows to your sexual organs and this creates lubrication by means of vaginal fluid.
Women can experience vaginal dryness, which can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable. Itching and stinging in the vaginal opening and the lower third of the vagina can also accompany vaginal dryness.
One cause of thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls is a lack of oestrogen. Menopause can affect the oestrogen cycle, as can childbirth and breast-feeding. Common cancer therapies or the surgical removal of a woman's ovaries can also affect the production of oestrogen, which can contribute to vaginal dryness.
Cigarette smoking can contribute to vaginal dryness in some women. Over-the-counter drugs such as allergy and cold medicines, as well as prescription drugs such as antidepressants can decrease moisture in the body, including the vagina. Certain autoimmune diseases are known to affect moisture in the vagina.
According to the Mayo Clinic, douching can disrupt the normal chemical balance in a woman's vagina and can contribute to inflammation. This can cause the vagina to feel dry or irritated. Scented soap and bubble baths can also have the same effect.
Vaginal Dryness Remedies
Women can take a number of steps to remedy vaginal dryness. Women with vaginal dryness should not douche or take bubble baths. Topical oestrogen can be used to treat oestrogen deficiency. Topical oestrogen can come in the form of a cream, an insertable ring or an insertable tablet. If dryness is a result of oestrogen deficiency after menopause, consult your doctor for appropriate treatment.
Strep infection is referred to as Group B strep (GBS). The bacteria that causes strep infection is streptococcus agalactia. A urinary tract infection is the most common symptom of Group B strep. More serious infections such as blood infections or pneumonia can also develop. Those with diabetes and liver disease are most susceptible.
Strep infection and babies
During childbirth, bacteria can be passed on to the baby, resulting in an infection. Fever, fussiness, difficulty feeding and lethargy are some of the symptoms of strep infection in babies. Babies can become critically ill from strep B infection. However, only about one out of 200 babies whose mothers carry the bacteria and do not receive treatment will acquire the bacteria and develop symptoms.
Treatment of Strep Infection
Effective treatment of strep infection is with antibiotics. A simple test at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy can determine if the mother carries the bacteria. If antibiotic treatment for the pregnant mother is initiated, the bacteria has little chance of being passed on to the baby. Babies who acquire strep infection are similarly treated with antibiotics.