As previously mentioned, menopause is a common cause. “The majority of women who go through menopause end up with vaginal dryness,” Minkin tells mbg. This occurs due to a decrease in estrogen on the tissues that line the vagina. “Instead of being nice, plump, juicy tissue filled with glycogen, the lining becomes thin, the tissue gets dry, and the glycogen goes away,” she explains. 

This can lead to general discomfort, pain during sex, and it can also cause itching, burning, and bleeding, says Minkin. 

How to manage it:

Using an over-the-counter vaginal moisturizer may help. This is different from lubricant, which is used during sex to increase moisture and enhance pleasure. 

“Moisturizers are meant to be put into the vagina on an ongoing basis, about to to three times per week—sex or no sex,” she says. “They sort of stick to the wall of the vagina and recoup moisture to make you more comfortable.” Because they have the same estrogen receptors, the vulva may become dry during menopause, too. If this happens, “you can use moisturizers externally, as well,” Minkin suggests.