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Nearly every woman will experience vaginal dryness sometime in her life. It is most often associated with the normal decline or fluctuation in the female hormone estrogen, which can be triggered by giving birth, breastfeeding or menopause. Even taking certain medications, undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, exercising intensively, or being under a lot of stress can cause it. It is also common to experience vaginal dryness when douching too often, using tampons or just prior to menstruation.
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Chemotherapy: A treatment of disease by any chemicals. Used most often to refer to the chemical treatments used to combat cancer cells.
Estrogen: One of the female sex hormones produced by the ovaries.
Hormones: Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions and, in this way, regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth. These can be prescription, over-the-counter, synthetic or natural agents. Examples include adrenal hormones such as corticosteroids and aldosterone; glucagon, growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, estrogens, progestins, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin, and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and calcitonin.
Menopause: The cessation of menstruation (usually not official until 12 months have passed without periods), occurring at the average age of 52. As commonly used, the word denotes the time of a woman's life, usually between the ages of 45 and 54, when periods cease and any symptoms of low estrogen levels persist, including hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, loss of libido and vaginal dryness. When these early menopausal symptoms subside, a woman becomes postmenopausal.