NHS website

Vaginal dryness

Read about vaginal dryness, including why it happens and what can be done about it.

5 December 2018


Vaginal dryness is a common problem that many women have at some point in their lives. But there are things that can help.

Symptoms of vaginal dryness

You may have vaginal dryness if you:

These things may make you feel less like you want to have sex.

Causes of vaginal dryness

You can get vaginal dryness if you:

  • go through the menopause ↗
  • are breastfeeding
  • take contraceptive pills or antidepressants
  • have your womb removed (a hysterectomy)
  • have cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy

These things can cause a change in your hormone levels. This change can affect how much vaginal discharge or fluid you have.

You can also have vaginal dryness if you:

Things you can try yourself

You can try these things before you see a GP. You can get most of them from a pharmacy without a prescription.


  • use water-based lubricants before sex – put these in and around your vagina or on your partner's penis
  • use vaginal moisturisers for vaginal dryness – you can put these inside your vagina to keep it moist
  • use unperfumed soaps and washes around your vagina
  • try to enjoy more foreplay so you're more aroused during sex – read about how to be more aroused during sex ↗


  • do not use perfumed soaps, washes and any douches in and around your vagina
  • do not put creams or lotions like petroleum jelly inside your vagina as it can cause an infection
  • do not use moisturisers that aren't for your vagina

See a GP if:

  • it's been a few weeks and things you can try yourself aren't working
  • it's affecting your daily life
  • you have unusual discharge or bleeding from your vagina
  • you have bleeding after sex or in between your periods

If you're getting vaginal dryness because of changes in your hormone levels, you may be prescribed creams, gels, patches or medicines to increase a hormone called oestrogen. This is called HRT ↗.