Vaginal dryness is defined by Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) as a disorder characterised by discomfort such as itching or burning in the vagina.r Vaginal dryness can interfere with sexual function and result in dyspareunia, causing considerable distress for the patient.r
The physical effect of radiation on the vaginal epithelium is thought to be a likely cause of vaginal dryness.
The incidence rates of vaginal dryness for women receiving pelvic radiotherapy have been reported between 8.3-50%.rr
Vaginal dryness is a late effect of radiation treatment to the pelvis. Effects related to sexual dysfunction, including vaginal dryness, are known to be cumulative with time and may have long latency periods. Some studies suggest onset can be three to five years post radiotherapy.r
Radiation doses of over 7 Gy to the ovaries may cause permanent menopause in women 40 years or over, this can therefore be a contributing factor of vaginal dryness.rr