Vaginal dryness is one of the most common menopause symptoms, affecting over half of menopausal women. Vaginal dryness is caused by declining levels of estrogen in the body, which is part of menopause. This causes vaginal tissue to become thinner, drier, and less elastic. This can lead to general discomfort, itching, and pain during sex.
However, women do not have to live with vaginal dryness because there are many different treatments available. One of the most commonly discussed treatments of vaginal dryness is phytoestrogens.
Using Phytoestrogens to Treat Vaginal Dryness
Phytoestrogens are compounds found in many fruits, grains, and vegetables, which may act like estrogen when introduced into the human body. Research is mixed on whether phytoestrogens actually have a strong enough effect on the human body to reduce vaginal dryness and other menopause symptoms. Therefore, eating more phytoestrogens should not be your only form of treatment. Foods that contain phytoestrogens include:
- Fruits like apples, plums, pears, grapes, and berries
- Vegetables like sprouts, cabbage, spinach, garlic, and onion
- Some wines, beers, and teas
It is clear that phytoestrogens are present in a wide range of foods, and it would be unhealthy to completely avoid them. It is also clear that getting a certain amount of them is healthy and can contribute to a well-functioning body.
However, phytoestrogens have become a buzzword, and companies have begun marketing creams and supplements that contain large amounts of phytoestrogens. Most health experts recommend against taking phytoestrogens in medicinal doses. More research still needs to be done on the impact of taking phytoestrogens is such high doses.
Furthermore, taking such high doses of phytoestrogens, if they do actually work and increase the amount of estrogen in the body, may increase a woman's risk of getting certain cancers and other medical conditions later in life. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), one of the most effective treatments for menopause symptoms and vaginal dryness, can also raise a woman's risk for breast cancer. It is a good idea to talk to your doctor about your risk factors before starting to take HRT or phytoestrogens.
More Information about Vaginal Dryness
There are many different treatment options available for vaginal dryness. Some of the most common treatments include lubricants, which can be applied to the vagina before and during sex. Vaginal moisturizers are also an effective product; they are used on a regular basis and are absorbed into the vagina in order to increase vaginal moisture. If you have any questions about how you can treat vaginal dryness, it is recommended to talk to your gynecologist. Click on the following link for more information on vaginal dryness.
- Jaroenporn, S., Urasopon, N., Watanabe, G. & Malaivijitnond, S. (2014). Improvements of Vaginal Atrophy without Systemic Side Effects after Topical Application of Pueraria mirifica, a Phytoestrogen-rich Herb, in Postmenopausal Cynomolgus Macaques. The Journal of Reproduction and Development, 60(3), 238-245. doi: 10.1262/jrd.2013-144
- Bacciottini, L., Falchetti, A., Pampaloni, B., Bartolini, E., Carossino, A. M. & Brandi, M. L. (2007). Phytoestrogens: food or drug? Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism, 4(2), 123-130.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2015). Menopause. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/menopause