Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause, and there are many products that help women ease their symptoms.
Vaginal dryness occurs when the vagina becomes less moist, and can lead to bleeding and painful cracks in the vaginal walls. Due to changing estrogen levels during menopause, the mucus membranes in the vagina stop producing the correct amount of moisture. The mucus membranes not only prevent vaginal dryness, but also help keep the area and its bacterial flora, healthy.
When Should Women Use Lubricants?
When women are experiencing vaginal dryness, they will often experience pain during sex, which can cause bleeding. Rather than allowing vaginal dryness to cause these adverse effects on their sex life, there are many available lubricants available.
Lubricants are applied before sex and are not absorbed into the vagina. They help create a more slippery environment, and can help eliminate pain and increase enjoyment during sex. Most health care professionals recommend water-based lubricants, because oil-based lubricants can irritate the vagina and can cause latex condoms to break.
While lubricants are a powerful quick fix, women looking for more permanent relief should look into other options.
Moisturizers are applied regularly, have a longer impact then lubricants, and are absorbed by the skin and adhere to the vagina, which means moisturizers act similarly to natural vaginal secretions.
Estrogen products include pills, skin patches, vaginal inserts, and vaginal cream that contain estrogen and may contain other hormones. They are used to ease the side effects of menopause and other conditions. It is not recommended to use estrogen pills and skin patches to fix vaginal dryness, because with these medications the estrogen goes throughout your body and a relatively low amount ends up going toward the vagina.
Vaginal inserts release estrogen regularly and should not interfere with sexual intercourse. Vaginal cream containing estrogen is applied to the vagina and should not be used directly before having sex with a partner.
Research shows that taking estrogen products can increase the likelihood of getting certain types of cancer, so estrogen therapy products should be used as a last resort.
Keep it Simple
Lifestyle adjustments can also be very helpful when regaining natural lubrication. Some simple tips include:
Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. It is especially important that women consume healthy unsaturated fats, such as those from avocado and nuts. Drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated.
Do not use soap to clean your vulva, warm water suffices in cleaning this part of the body.
Sex, including sex with a partner and/or masturbating, are vital to maintaining a healthy, moist vagina.
There are other natural products that can work as lubricants for vaginal dryness, such as coconut oil, vitamin E capsules, or soy-based creams.
Remember that everyone knows their own body best, so choose options that make you feel healthy and comfortable. Click here to learn more about vaginal dryness treatments.
- "Vaginal Dryness". Mayo Clinic Health Resource. 2007
- The Changing Body: Menopause Handbook.(n.d)."Vulvovaginal Symptoms". Retrieved from www.menopause.org
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.