Women can experience vaginal dryness at any point in their life, however chances of experiencing vaginal dryness increase with menopause. The main reason for the onset of vaginal dryness during menopause is the body's declining production of the sex hormone estrogen.
This can result in discomfort, painful sex, and vaginal itching. However, there are a number of treatment options available, which can come in the form of creams, lubricants, and suppositories.
Creams and Moisturizers
Vaginal creams or moisturizers can either be hormonal or non-hormonal. If you choose estrogen replacement in the form of a cream, you will need to get a prescription from your doctor. 93% of women who use vaginal estrogen report an improvement and between 57 and 75% report improved sexual comfort. Vaginal creams with estrogen are applied two or three times a week. The creams should not be used as a lubricant before sex. Hormone replacements can help moisturize, strengthen, and thicken the vaginal tissue, which tends to dry out and become thinner during menopause.
Non-hormonal vaginal moisturizers are also absorbed into the skin and act like the natural moisture found in the vagina. The effects of a vaginal moisturizer can last for a few days. Non-hormonal vaginal moisturizers can be purchased without a prescription at pharmacies. Like lubricants, it can be important to experiment with different brands and types in order to find a product that works for you.
Lubricants are usually applied to the vagina right before sex. Lubricants can be purchased without a prescription at most pharmacies. Lubricant can solve your vaginal dryness if your pain and discomfort happens mainly during sex. Water-based lubricants are recommended, since oil-based lubricants can cause condoms to break and can also cause vaginal infections. Vaginal lubricants work by reducing the friction associated with thin, dry genital tissue and they provide temporary relief from vaginal dryness. Lubricants are not absorbed into the skin and do not contain estrogen or other hormones.
Vaginal suppositories can also be hormonal or non-hormonal. Hormonal vaginal suppositories contain estrogen and involve inserting a tablet into the vagina. Some women choose this route for vaginal hormone therapy because it is less messy than vaginal estrogen cream. Not all vaginal suppositories involve estrogen. Some contain hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and vitamin A.
Women have several options when it comes to treating vaginal dryness. A decision many women make is whether or not to use estrogen replacement. There are several different types of estrogen replacement available, and there are also other alternatives to estrogen replacement, so it is important to talk to your doctor about what option is best for you. Vaginal lubricant is frequently used in combination with moisturizers, creams, or suppositories.
Women deserve to feel comfortable in their own bodies and enjoy a fulfilling sex life, so it is important to seek treatment for vaginal dryness. Click for more information about vaginal dryness treatments.
- The North American Menopause Society. (2015). Vaginal and Vulvar Comfort: Lubricants, Moisturizers, and Low-dose Vaginal Estrogen. Retrieved from http://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/effective-treatments-for-sexual-problems/vaginal-and-vulvar-comfort-lubricants-moisturizers-and-low-dose-vaginal-estrogen
- Costantino D., Guaraldi C. (2008). Effectiveness and safety of vaginal suppositories for the treatment of the vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women: an open, non-controlled clinical trial. [Abstract]. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, 12(6), 411-416.