As if women don't have enough stress in their lives, it turns out vaginal depression is one more thing to add to the list.
If you think back to the time your Sex and the City gal pal Charlotte York visited the gynecologist for symptoms similar to a yeast infection, her doctor wasn't wrong for prescribing an anti-depressant. What Charlotte actually had was a painful condition called vulvodynia, a chronic pain disorder that may cause burning, itching, swelling or soreness down there. It's a condition as many as six million women may deal with, though many go undiagnosed.
"Diagnosis can be very difficult, since the vagina may appear completely normal upon examination," says Sherry Ross, M.D. and ob-gyn to Women's Health. "Usually we administer a cotton-swab test where we apply pressure to various areas of the vagina and ask the patient to evaluate the severity of the pain associated with each touch."
There's no cure for this potentially excruciating issue, but some doctors find that a light anti-depressant can work to ward off the condition. The dosage isn't near what would be prescribed to treat a real depressive disorder, but it may alleviate symptoms without harsh side effects like weight gain or low libido.
Another common issue women may experience down there is vaginal atrophy, a common but treatable condition that causes the vaginal wall to thin over time. It may appear more prominently in women who have experienced menopause or have been treated for breast cancer, but it can affect any woman of any age.
Vaginal atrophy is caused by below-average estrogen production, which effects the makeup of the vaginal wall. As it thins, a woman may experience discharge, itching, burning, difficulty urinating or pain during sex.
Ironically, though, sex may be the answer to treating—and preventing—both of the common painful conditions your lady parts may experience. In both cases, hormone therapy treatments or even light anti-depressants can help alleviate symptoms, but the best way to naturally relieve the pain is simple—and sexual.
Having sex with a partner or enjoying solo sessions that lead to regular orgasms can help strengthen your vaginal wall and ward off those painful symptoms. When you engage your vaginal wall and increase blood flow to the area as you climax, it's akin to a 'workout' down below.
"It is very important that we have a healthy sex life with a partner or with ourselves," says Louise Mazanti, a London-based sex therapist, to The Sun.
Regular sex won't necessarily shock your vagina out of its 'depression', but it will strengthen the tissue and muscles to make it healthier. "It's about using massage and touching the tissue so that it becomes alive, the blood flows and the tissue becomes elastic," Mazanti says. "It is really about exercising the tissue."
Whether you call a partner in for help or you strengthen your vagina alone, orgasms will promote collagen production and stabilize blood flow, helping the vaginal wall become less inflamed, dry and thin.
So for your vagina's health and happiness, it's important to have regular sex or masturbation sessions.
But before you hop in the sack, be sure to grab some lube! If you're already experiencing the pain of a 'depressed vagina' or vaginal atrophy, lube will treat dryness and will make for more comfortable intercourse. If you're indulging in sex as a preventative measure, a lubricant will make the deed easier and prevent vaginal tearing that could lead to pain down the road.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock