Vaginal dryness is a symptom that is particularly prevalent during perimenopause. In the years prior to menopause, various alterations in a woman's hormone levels trigger a number of changes in the body, often including dryness in the vagina and consequential pain and itchiness. In a period of significant physical and emotional change for a woman, vaginal dryness can be difficult to accept. It may affect her sense of femininity and her experience of sexual intercourse. However, dietary factors greatly influence this symptom, and increasing your intake of certain vitamins could reduce vaginal dryness.
Vitamin E is arguably the most effective vitamin in countering the effects of hormone imbalances during menopause and reducing hormonally-driven symptoms. It is available from several sources, including supplements, topically-applied vaginal moisturizers, and via the consumption of foods, such as sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, almonds, peanuts, and broccoli.
Vitamin E is the collective term for fat-soluble compounds with distinctive antioxidant activities. Antioxidants limit the production of potentially damaging compounds known as free radicals in the body and reduce vaginal dryness by neutralizing free radicals in the vaginal tissues, thereby strengthening the healthy functioning of the walls of the vagina. This helps to counter the thinning of the vaginal tissues that occurs during menopause and causes dryness.
Vitamin A, found in sweet potato, leafy greens (e.g., kale and spinach), butternut squash, and apricots, is an antioxidant, which aids in good health. It can help maintain vaginal tissues and boost the mucous membranes in the vagina to stimulate the secretion of moisture there and promote healthy vaginal functioning. The vitamin can also be incorporated into your diet on a supplementary basis.
B vitamins can also act like antioxidants, and are found in whole cereals, beans, potatoes, and nuts. Vitamin B is also available in supplementary form. It maintains the mucous membranes for overall vaginal health. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), found in milk and eggs, is also a valuable vitamin for boosting the release of hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
It is easy to underestimate the significance that what you eat has on your overall health, including your vaginal tissues. Boosting the presence of vitamins A, B, and E in your diet is an easy way of promoting healthy functioning of the vaginal walls and overall health, and may also minimize the impact of other inconvenient menopause symptoms you may be experiencing, like irregular periods, loss of libido, hot flashes, or night sweats. Remember that even though vaginal dryness may feel like an uncomfortable issue to discuss, this does not detract from its importance to your well-being. Read about home remedies for vaginal dryness.
- Office of Dietary Supplements. (2013). Vitamin E: Health Professional Fact Sheet. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/
- Palace, V.P. et al. (1999). Antioxidant potentials of vitamin A and carotenoids and their relevance to heart disease. Free radical biology & medicine, 26(5-6), 746-761. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10218665
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Vitamin B2. (Riboflavin). Retrieved February 11, 2014 from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b2-riboflavin