Every woman is unique, but as we age, we all experience increased symptoms of dryness, especially of the skin, hair, lips, and vagina. As you notice more signs of dryness, your first instinct may be to slather yourself with creamy skin lotions and rich hair conditioners, always keep your lip balm handy, and explore using vaginal lubricants and personal moisturizers.

You've probably found, as we did, that while topical preparations certainly can help, they only provide short-term relief and do not address dryness where it actually begins, which is internally.

To remedy symptoms of dryness, it’s helpful to understand why dryness occurs in the first place and the critical role hydration plays in relieving these symptoms.


As women age, increased dryness — a lack of essential bodily fluids — is usually primarily the result of normal hormonal fluctuations or temporary hormonal imbalances. Often described as "subclinical hormonal fluctuations," they may not register on standard hormone panels your doctor may order. As a result, the physical discomfort caused by a lack of essential bodily fluids is often not taken seriously. Topical remedies that promise to moisten and replenish dry tissues may help some, but these products only supplement moisture on the body's surface. They don't address the underlying reason you're experiencing dryness.

We all feel and look better when we have adequate levels of hydration. To address the root cause of systemic dryness, working from the inside out is one of the most effective ways to restore essential bodily fluids and renew hydration.

Let's look at some of the factors that contribute to the symptoms of dryness.


The bottom line is that the body's natural ability to generate essential fluids changes as we age. Besides hormonal changes, the effects of high stress levels, the long-term impact of sun exposure, and a gradual decline in the body's ability to regenerate cells and repair tissues throughout the body all may affect hydration. In addition, colder temperatures in winter can strip the skin of its natural moistness and elasticity. Spending lots of time indoors with either air conditioning or heating may also contribute to overall dryness. This combination of factors affects our body’s ability to stay well hydrated.

It may come as a surprise that the symptoms listed below can all be indications that you need to restore essential fluids from the inside out:

  • Dry skin and eyes
  • Vaginal dryness, lack of vaginal fluids, and vaginal atrophy
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Discomfort during sex
  • Frequent urination or incontinence
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety 
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Stiff joints
  • Tight muscles and ligaments
  • Occasional constipation

Triggers like not drinking enough water, a lack of electrolytes, drinking beverages with caffeine or alcohol (which are drying to tissues), blood sugar imbalances, inadequate sleep (vital to all restorative and healing functions throughout the body), a lack of the regular exercise needed for good circulation, and a poor diet can all decrease hydration.


For most women, the transition towards menopause begins in their 40s, and menopause is generally a third of our lives. Common symptoms of menopause are: 

  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Decreased libido/lack of sexual desire
  • Insomnia
  • Tiredness/low energy
  • Anxiety
  • Impaired focus and concentration
  • Memory issues
  • Low mood/depression
  • Thinning of the vaginal walls

Fluctuating hormone levels typically cause these changes. They also contribute to symptoms of dryness. Though these changes may be uncomfortable, they are a normal part of this phase of life.

Most women notice the more obvious symptoms of poor hydration as they enter menopause, like dry skin, nails, lips, and hair and vaginal dryness. What is not so obvious is that the reason for these symptoms is a decrease of essential fluids internally, mainly due to low estrogen.


The most important hormonal change at menopause is the decline in sex hormones produced by the ovaries. This decline can have a significant effect on a woman’s body and her level of hydration: 

  • At menopause, there is a significant decrease in the levels of estradiol (a form of estrogen) and progesterone produced by the ovaries. 
  • At the same time a decline in testosterone may also occur. Testosterone is known as a male hormone, but it is essential for maintaining healthy bones and muscles and making new red blood cells in women as well as men. 

Some women may not notice any particular symptoms as hormone levels fall. Others may experience any (or all) of the typical symptoms of menopause listed above. 


Fortunately, after menopause, the body has ways to minimize the decline in estrogen. As ovarian function declines, the role of the adrenals in maintaining hormonal balance becomes more critical. The adrenal glands step in and produce a hormone called androstenedione, which is converted to estrogen by body fat and other tissues and organs in the body. Only normal, healthy levels of body fat are needed to make the conversion of androstenedione to estrogen.

When this conversion is successful, estrogen levels don’t decrease so dramatically. This reduces the occurrence and severity of menopausal symptoms. However, if a woman is experiencing high levels of stress, her adrenals will be busy generating cortisol and adrenaline and may not have the capacity to generate sufficient estrogen to maintain healthy levels of hydration in the body.


We all experience some stress as a regular part of everyday life, and though not all stress is bad, extended periods of stress can wreak havoc on overall health. While stress management should be part of any comprehensive wellness plan, you may be surprised to learn that stress also contributes to dehydration symptoms. For example, we know that elevated stress levels result in a loss of essential bodily fluids, cause fluctuations in hormone levels, and can seriously impair cognitive brain function.

Your brain is about 85% water. Even a tiny decrease in fluids may increase anxiety. While a drop in fluids in the brain doesn't cause anxiety directly, it does increase your body's levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This is an ancient survival mechanism that is hard-wired into our brains. When our body senses that it’s becoming dehydrated, it generates a stress signal that is designed to get us to look for water. The problem is, many of us interpret that natural response as anxiety.

Elevated cortisol levels may affect concentration, memory, and sleep patterns. With adequate hydration, your brain functions correctly, your cortisol levels drop, and you feel calmer, more alert, and more able to rest deeply.

While cortisol is the most apparent hormonal indicator that we are experiencing stress, more nuanced hormonal changes may also occur. For women, these hormonal changes can impact the menstrual cycle, contribute to menstrual discomfort, intensify the physical changes of menopause, reduce libido, and decrease hydration.

In short, particularly for those of us over 40, it's essential to adopt wellness routines — including natural remedies like Tributary Renew Hydration — that help us to stay hydrated, and paying attention to other practices that contribute to restoring and maintaining essential fluids. With an understanding of the internal causes of dryness, an informed approach to hydration, and the benefits of botanicals, women can better navigate the changes that come with aging and maintain a more resilient sense of well-being.

To learn more, please see Tributary Botanicals and How to Relieve Dryness.