Why Hormone Replacement Therapy Can Be Your Ally in Combating Vaginal Dryness

Frustrated and uncomfortable woman, couple, in bed unhappy with sexual unhappiness
Medically Reviewed
April 5, 2024

With a career in medicine spanning over 20 years, I see a lot of women struggling with vaginal dryness. It’s a common issue, affecting millions of women across all stages of life, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating or isolating. This dryness can lead to discomfort, burning, itching, painful sex, and a significant decrease in sexual enjoyment. 

The good news: vaginal dryness is treatable! One of the most effective tools we have in our arsenal is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). Today, I want to dispel some myths about BHRT and explain how it can be a powerful ally in reclaiming your sexual health and well-being. 

Understanding the Root Cause: A Whole-Body Approach 

Before diving into BHRT, let’s talk about the integrative approach to medicine, which addresses the root cause of disease/imbalances. Integrative medicine, also called functional medicine, takes a holistic approach to healthcare. Instead of simply treating symptoms, we seek to understand the underlying imbalances that contribute to them. 

In the case of vaginal dryness, a natural decrease in estrogen is often the culprit. Estrogen plays a vital role in keeping vaginal tissues healthy and lubricated. When estrogen levels drop, these tissues become thinner and less elastic, leading to dryness, irritation, and discomfort. 

However, a drop in estrogen isn’t the only factor. Several other elements can contribute to vaginal dryness, including: 

  • Thyroid issues: An underactive thyroid can contribute to dryness. 
  • Autoimmune diseases: Certain autoimmune conditions can affect sexual health. 
  • Medications: Some medications, like antidepressants, can have vaginal dryness as a side effect. 
  • Stress: Chronic stress can impact hormone production and affect sexual health. 
  • Diet and lifestyle: Poor diet, lack of sleep, and smoking can all contribute to vaginal health issues. 
  • Impaired glucose metabolism: Sugar imbalances experienced by those with insulin resistance and diabetes is another root cause issue that contributes to vaginal dryness. 

Why BHRT Matters 

BHRT addresses the root cause of vaginal dryness by replacing the missing estrogen. This helps restore the health and elasticity of vaginal tissues, alleviating dryness and promoting lubrication. 

Here at Nava Health, we only practice with BHRT or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. The hormones used in HRT can be synthetic or derived from animal sources like pregnant mares’ urine. Bioidentical hormones are formulated to be chemically identical to your body’s natural hormones. They are typically derived from plant sources like soy and yam. 

The benefits of BHRT extend beyond simply addressing dryness. Studies have shown that hormone replacement can also: 

  • Improve sexual desire and arousal 
  • Reduce pain during intercourse 
  • Improve urinary incontinence 
  • Strengthen pelvic floor muscles 
  • Improve sleep quality 
  • Maintain bone density 

Dispelling Myths About Hormone Therapy 

There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding hormone replacement, which can make women hesitant to consider it. Let’s address some of the most common myths: 

Myth: HRT increases cancer risk. 

Reality: Research on HRT and cancer risk is complex. While some studies suggest a slight increase in breast cancer risk with certain types of HRT, this risk is very small and needs to be weighed against the benefits. In addition, the studies referenced did not reflect bioidentical hormone sources that do not contain synthetic hormones. Working with a qualified healthcare provider who understands your individual risk factors is crucial in making an informed decision about HRT. 

Myth: Hormone replacement makes you gain weight. 

Reality: Weight gain is not a typical side effect of hormone therapy. 

Myth: Hormone replacement is only for postmenopausal women. 

Reality: Hormone therapy can be beneficial for women experiencing vaginal dryness at any stage of life, including perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) and post-chemotherapy or surgery. 

Taking Control: Finding the Right Hormone Therapy for You 

HRT comes in various forms, including pills, injections- creams, gels, pellets, and patches. The best option for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Working with a healthcare provider who understands integrative medicine and women’s health is key. They can help you create a personalized BHRT plan that addresses your specific situation and ensures you receive the most optimal dose. 

Beyond HRT: A Multifaceted Approach 

While BHRT is a powerful tool, it’s not the only puzzle piece. Integrative medicine emphasizes a multi-faceted approach to optimizing women’s sexual health and well-being throughout their lives. Here are some additional strategies to consider: 

  • Nutrition: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can support hormonal balance and overall health. 
  • Stress management: Chronic stress can disrupt hormone production. Techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help manage stress and improve sexual health. 
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity improves circulation and promotes overall well-being, which can benefit sexual health. 
  • Pelvic floor exercises: Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can improve vaginal tone and sensation. 
  • Supplements: Certain supplements like vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful depending on your individual needs. Always discuss with your integrative medicine provider before starting any supplements. 

Reclaiming Your Sexual Vitality 

Vaginal dryness doesn’t have to be the norm. There are effective treatments, like BHRT, available to help you reclaim comfort and a healthy sex life. Remember, addressing sexual health is not frivolous; it’s a vital part of your overall well-being. Don’t hesitate to talk to an expert in hormone replacement therapy about your concerns. Taking a proactive and integrative approach, you can find solutions that empower you and restore your confidence. 

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting any new treatment, including bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. 

Dr. Angela DeRosa

As our Associate Medical Director, Dr. Angela De Rosa is integral to the continued education and innovation here at Nava Health. Dr. Angela DeRosa, DO, MBA, CPE, is a dynamic professional on a mission to change the face of women’s health and wellness. As a respected, internationally recognized authority on women’s hormonal health, Dr. DeRosa understands the range of health issues women face leading up to and during menopause, as she was in full-blown menopause by age 35. Dr. DeRosa has more than 25 years of experience in the medical field, both on the pharmaceutical side and in clinical practice.

Dr. DeRosa’s enthusiasm for educating patients on the realities of menopause and the risk factors of hormonal health imbalances has never waned. It was the driving force behind her first bestselling book, A Woman’s Health Survival Guide: How to Prevent Your Doctor From Slowly Killing You. Her book and its controversial title caught the attention of the public, media, and the medical community.

Dr. DeRosa is on the advisory board for the European Menopause and Andropause Society, a member of the International Menopause Society International Society of the Study of Women’s Sexual Health, and a researcher on women’s health issues. Dr. DeRosa is a Midwestern University Clinical Assistant Professor and a Past Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association President.