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Feminine Vaginal Moisturizer: A Guide to Vaginal Dryness Products

Due to the natural aging process, and the onset of menopause, vaginal dryness is a common problem for many women. As the hormones that were once needed to support a potential pregnancy diminish, amenorrhea (i.e., the absence of menstruation), vaginal dryness, and other symptoms may set in.

Although menopause can begin anywhere between your 30s and your 60s, it typically happens between 45 and 55. Early signs include irregular periods and changes in vaginal discharge. The transitional process, which might start years before your last period, is called perimenopause.

Once menstruation has stopped for 12 consecutive months, menopause has officially begun. While some individuals observe no symptoms at all, others experience hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal atrophy thanks to a significant drop in estrogen. Also, expect to see altered skin and hair texture, mood swings, weight gain, and of course, vaginal dryness.

As the vaginal lining thins, becoming dry and easily irritated, the resulting tightness produces pain, burning, and soreness during and after sexual intercourse. Vaginal moisturizers mimic the female body’s natural secretions and offer a non-hormonal solution to vaginal dryness. When applied regularly, vaginal moisturizers rehydrate these tissues the same way hand and body lotions rehydrate your skin. The only difference is they’re specifically designed to restore healthy moisture levels in the vaginal area.

Since products vary, follow the package directions, or use as directed by your doctor. Some patients might need to apply vaginal dryness products daily, while others can do it once every 2 to 3 days, based on the extent of their vaginal dryness. 

Vaginal moisturizers could prove to be highly beneficial when it comes to sexual activity, as well as maintaining normal pH levels. A research study found that vaginal pH increases during menopause, becoming more alkaline and raising the likelihood of infection. 

As such, vaginal dryness products contain targeted ingredients to combat these issues. Plant-based or synthetic polymers allow water to adhere to the vaginal lining. Buffers help restore vaginal pH levels, and other key ingredients provide the right amount of viscosity. 

If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, pain during sex, or unusual discharge, see your doctor first for a complete physical and gynecological exam. They’ll determine the root cause and review various options for treatment. Your doctor will likely recommend an over-the-counter vaginal moisturizer if symptoms are mild. In the event that vaginal atrophy is the underlying problem, a combination of vaginal moisturizers and prescription-strength topical estrogen is preferred. Be sure to discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of this approach. 

A huge selection of vaginal dryness products is available, including natural vaginal moisturizers, or oils that may be applied both internally and externally. Carrier oils (made with olive, coconut, grapeseed, sunflower, and almond extracts) have little to no fragrance and don’t cause irritation. Even if vaginal dryness hasn’t occurred, consider using these products to enhance lovemaking! 

Aside from a dip in estrogen, vaginal dryness and atrophy could be brought on by certain medical conditions, procedures, and lifestyle changes.

  • Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding significantly impact hormone levels, and in turn, vaginal moisture and discharge.
  • Medications like antihistamines and diuretics alter the body’s moisture levels. This is also true of some forms of birth control (e.g., medroxyprogesterone) and drugs used to treat endometriosis (e.g., leuprolide acetate, danazol, and nafarelin).
  • An oophorectomy, or surgical removal of the ovaries, may create vaginal dryness since the ovaries are responsible for estrogen production. 
  • Chemotherapy and radiation are capable of damaging the ovaries and interfering with hormonal activity.
  • Autoimmune disorders (e.g., Sjogren’s syndrome) produce dryness in different regions of the body, including the vagina.
  • Smoking cigarettes decreases blood flow to the tissues and has been linked to vaginal atrophy as well.

Your doctor is probably going to recommend applying a vaginal moisturizer 2 to 3 times per week, even when you’re not having sex. This will help restore moisture, regulate pH levels, and keep your vagina healthy and comfortable.  

There are four basic types of vaginal moisturizing products found at drug stores, supermarkets, and other retailers. 

  • Natural oils, like those mentioned above, may be applied with your fingers in and around the vagina. Do not use natural oils with condoms as they break down latex and dramatically increase your chances of becoming pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). 
  • Creams for vaginal dryness tend to last longer and are administered with an applicator several times per week.
  • Gel vaginal moisturizers feature a lighter texture and consistency, and come in water-based varieties labeled as personal lubricants
  • Pill or capsule-shaped suppositories can be inserted manually or with an applicator. Remember, they’re for vaginal use only and should never be taken orally.

Be sure to follow package directions carefully before using any vaginal dryness products. Furthermore, some products may appear to be similar, but should not be used internally. They include:

  • Hand lotions or creams
  • Massage products containing essential oils
  • Petroleum-based jellies like Vaseline
  • Gels containing alcohol or sanitizing agents

Although these products are readily available and might seem harmless, they could negatively affect vaginal pH, produce irritation, and boost your chances for infection.

The number one thing you can do to combat dryness throughout your body is to drink plenty of water every day. The average adult female should drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily, but this varies by individual. 

While fruit juices, teas, and coffees serve as good substitutes for water in moderation, they often contain natural or added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine. Whether or not you’re struggling with vaginal dryness, try to stay in tune with what your body needs to be healthy and happy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955044/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3818598/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4819835/

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/best-fixes-vaginal-dryness-plus-natural-options/

https://info.sjogrens.org/conquering-sjogrens/topic/vaginal-dryness

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jwh.2009.1384

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4064779/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vaginal-dryness/basics/causes/sym-20151520

https://www.uhn.ca/PatientsFamilies/Health_Information/Health_Topics/Documents/Know_How_to_Use_Vaginal_Moisturizers_Lubricants.pdf

https://familydoctor.org/hydration-why-its-so-important/

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