Can Birth Control Pills Cause Vaginal Dryness?
Fix one problem, cause another. It seems to be the way of the world. For example, using birth control helps prevent unwanted pregnancy; but it can also cause unwanted side effects.
In particular if you’re among the 9.5 million American women who use birth control pills, you may be wondering if they might be the cause of your unexpected vaginal dryness and an unwelcomed drop in your libido. The likely answer to both questions is, yes.
Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to stop taking the pill. Instead, you can turn to a number of natural remedies that will help.
Why do women use birth control pills?
Women use oral contraceptives for several reasons. The primary one, of course, is to prevent pregnancy, but the pill offers several other benefits:
- It regulates your menstrual cycles.
- It makes your periods less painful and heavy.
- It lowers your risk for ovarian and uterine cancer.
- It helps prevent ovarian cysts from forming.
- It can manage the symptoms of endometriosis.
- It can help banish hormonal acne.
Why does the pill cause vaginal dryness?
For the longest time, physicians seemed not to notice – or talk about – how the pill contributes to vaginal irritation and dryness. Much less its impact on a woman’s sex drive. They were too busy focusing on how the pill caused other bothersome side effects, like weight gain and headaches (even migraines).
However, as more women grow comfortable and confident in discussing their sexuality, doctors are beginning to shine a light on the link between birth control pills and both these adverse side effects.
But what exactly is it about the pill that can wreak havoc on your vaginal moisture balance? To make a long story short, it is all about the estrogen, baby. Birth control pills are notorious for causing changes to estrogen levels in women. Low levels of estrogen in the body reduce blood flow to tissues. Since your vagina is comprised of tissues, it does not take an OBGYN to figure out how that might be a bad thing.
And what about the dip in a woman’s libido?
Well, it turns out, feeling sexy isn’t just a mental thing. It’s also a hormone thing. Your libido is controlled, in particular, by your circulating level of androgens, (the female form of testosterone). In fact, it is androgens that chemically drive a woman's sexual desire and fantasy. Circulating androgens even help give her the stamina for sex, even when she would otherwise feel too tired to care!
Women's androgen levels gradually decline as they age, and that can decrease sensitivity in the vagina and clitoris, which affects libido. Turns out, the pill also lowers androgen levels. Some experts say the result is a lack of sexual interest and unpleasantly less sexual enjoyment during sex.
Natural remedies for vaginal dryness from the pill
It might seem like the obvious way to cure vaginal dryness that is caused by birth control pills is to stop taking them. That is not always the most practical solution. Women who are taking the pill to control medical conditions like endometriosis or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) rely on the pill to effectively manage their symptoms.
If you use the pill for something other than family planning, there is good news. You can continue to use the pill without the added pain of vaginal dryness with these four natural solutions.
Eat more healthy fat.
Increasing your natural estrogen level is the best way to encourage your vagina to produce some natural lubrication. Since estrogen is made from cholesterol, it only makes sense that you would want to consume more healthy fat. Giving your body the healthy fats known to contribute to hormone balance will help. They include avocado, flaxseeds, hummus, peanuts, sesame seeds, and soybeans. While many of these foods are used by pre-and post-menopausal women to control vaginal dryness, they are just as effective in younger women taking the birth control pill.
Reduce caffeine intake.
If you already are suffering from dryness in your nether region (or anywhere else on your body), it only makes sense to avoid anything that would make it worse. Consuming caffeine can exacerbate a dryness problem. Just because caffeine comes in the form of a liquid does not mean it is hydrating. That’s not to suggest that you give up your morning cup of Joe or that cola you enjoy drinking with lunch a few times each week. But balance that out with plenty of water to encourage your body to stay hydrated. The Mayo Clinic endorses aiming for 2.7 liters daily for women, which is equivalent to 11.5 cups.
Use a vaginal moisturizer or lubricant.
Think about it. When your skin is dry and itchy, you likely reach for a moisturizing cream. Your vagina is no different. If it is irritated from your birth control pills, try using a natural moisturizer (and not just before sex). Crème De La Femme vaginal moisturizer has helped women stay happy and comfortable for 30 years. It was developed by a woman doctor who understood the unique challenges women face with vaginal dryness. It is suitable for use as both a daily moisturizer and a lubricant to make sex more comfortable and fun. With its silky-smooth formulation, your peach will be feeling juicy again in no time!
Take a women’s nutritional supplement.
It is practically impossible to get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs from food alone. Some vitamins and minerals are crucial to a healthy vagina. Women who are lacking in B vitamins and Vitamin D may find themselves dry and irritated. Vitamins A and D are essential for a healthy immune system. When your immune system is not healthy, neither is your vagina. Taking a women’s multivitamin that includes these and other crucial vitamins and minerals is one way to help reverse your dry spell.
Take care. Stay well.