postpartum - 5 minute read

The Surprising Postpartum Symptom No One Talks About

To put it lightly, your body really goes through it when you give birth. There’s a lot of huge changes that happen all at once: you’re suddenly a mother, you’re confronted with just how much your body can handle, and you’re trying not to think about how you probably definitely pooped in front of all of the nurses in the delivery room.

But in the recovery phase, when you're occupied with keeping a new human alive while navigating fun symptoms of your own (hello, hemorrhoids!), there’s something surprising that can pop up that not enough people talk about. And that’s postpartum vaginal dryness. 

Why does vaginal dryness happen during the postpartum period?

Wait, you’re surely asking by now, I thought vaginal dryness was just a menopause thing? Surprisingly, no: vaginal dryness can happen when your hormones go through a huge adjustment. The menopause transition is definitely one of those times. But the postpartum period is absolutely another. 

When you’re pregnant, the placenta—the extra organ that provides nutrients and oxygen to your growing baby—produces tons of extra estrogen and progesterone to support your pregnancy. But once you give birth, your estrogen and progesterone levels plummet to essentially what they are at the beginning of your menstrual cycle (very, very low). This is normal—it’s your body’s way of enabling breastfeeding and to try and protect you from getting pregnant again while you’re taking care of your newborn. 

It’s a sudden adjustment, and it can come with some side effects—including down there. That’s because estrogen does more than just regulate your menstrual cycle and help with pregnancy; it also plays a key role in lubricating your vaginal tissue and keeping it strong and healthy

Vaginal dryness isn’t a superficial problem, either. People with postpartum vaginal dryness might feel burning and itching, soreness, and bleeding. They’re also more prone to recurring UTIs or yeast infections, adding to their woes. And if you delivered vaginally, existing tears or other trauma to that sensitive area can make things even more painful to deal with. All of that can make a person uncomfortable and make sex (or even just daily life) painful. 

It’s more common that you’d think too, considering how rarely people talk about it. One 2022 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine surveyed 150 women before and after giving birth, and found that 84 percent (!!) found it at least somewhat difficult to stay lubricated during sex after delivery.

So…what can I even do about it? 

So glad you asked! We at Kindra believe that no woman should suffer in silence with symptoms that society has deemed embarrassing or “shameful.” Vaginal dryness is frustrating at best, debilitating at worst, and everyone deserves solutions that work for them. 

There are lots of options out there for managing vaginal dryness at home, including: 

  1. V Relief Serum ($54): Kindra’s one-of-a-kind formula uses hydrating ingredients plus a clinically-backed peptide that will help reduce skin sensitivity to rehydrate your vaginal and vulvar tissues while cutting down on stinging, itching, and dryness. (Check with your doctor before using if you’re breastfeeding. According to Dr. Seema Shah, MD, OB/GYN & Kindra Medical Advisor, “This serum was formulated with the latest scientific findings to help women get what they need to move forward in their process to achieve better vulvar comfort.”
  2. Soothe Bath Soak ($30): Once your OB-GYN gives you the all-clear on bathtime (usually 1-3 weeks after birth), sit back and let this indulgent bath product do its work. The soak uses soothing chamomile and a powerful peptide to calm itchy, uncomfortable skin and ease vulvar and vaginal discomfort. (Check with your doctor before using if you’re breastfeeding.) According to Dr. Seema Shah, MD, OB/GYN & Kindra Medical Advisor, “Soothe takes into account the sensitivities that many women have. I'm so glad that Kindra is taking the time to understand the unique needs of women in different phases of their life to offer something that they will actually find effective.”
  3. A good lubricant: If you’re ready to have sex, invest in a good water- or silicone-based lube (we like Uberlube, $20) to help make things go more smoothly. (Avoid oil-based products, which are not safe to use with condoms, or “warming” lubes, which could further irritate things down there.) 
  4. Vaginal moisturizers: These products, available OTC, are used a few times a week to help combat dryness in your vaginal and vulvar tissues. Check with your OB-GYN about which options on the market are safe for use postpartum, especially if you’re breastfeeding. 
  5. Prescription estrogen creams: If you’ve tried everything else and you’re seeing no relief, talk to your OB-GYN. She might prescribe you with an estrogen cream, which helps bring some hormonal balance directly to your affected tissues. These creams are typically safe to use even when breastfeeding. 

Just because vaginal dryness can and does happen after having a baby doesn’t mean you have to live with it forever. There’s a solution out there for you—and we hope to help you find it. (Because don’t you have enough to deal with right now, mom?) 

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