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Many individuals experience vaginal dryness during menopause or with certain medications. It can cause pain and irritation during sexual activities, but vaginal moisturizers could help ease this issue.
This article describes vaginal dryness in more detail and how moisturizers can be beneficial. It also explores some products that a person can use alongside some frequently asked questions.
Vaginal dryness occurs when there are low estrogen levels in the body, a hormone that provides lubrication and elasticity to the vaginal lining.
When the body does not produce enough estrogen, the individual may also experience thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls. Doctors may refer to this condition as vaginal atrophy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that people may also experience low estrogen levels after giving birth while breastfeeding or undergoing cancer therapy.
According to Harvard Medical School, many individuals with vaginal dryness do not receive treatment and may notice that sexual intercourse causes pain and irritation.
Vaginal moisturizers are available over the counter (OTC) that provide moisture around and inside the vagina.
People can use internal moisturizers that sometimes include an applicator for inserting the cream directly into the vagina. However, if they are treating the vulva, they can apply external moisturizers.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
This vaginal moisturizer claims to be suitable for women who are experiencing menopause, have recently given birth, or are undergoing chemotherapy.
The company says it provides natural lubrication and comes with eight pre-filled, disposable applicators. It also includes a lubricant sample.
Some of the ingredients include glycerin, mineral oil, and sorbic acid.
The product is fragrance- and estrogen-free and is reportedly compatible with natural rubber latex, polyisoprene, and polyurethane condoms.
K-Y provides a packet of six ovule inserts that contain dimethicone, dimethiconol, gelatin, and glycerin. They come with disposable applicators that can dissolve within minutes. They provide vaginal lubrication for up to 48 hours.
The ovules are free of alcohol, fragrances, hormones, and parabens.
People can use the applicator to insert an ovule into their vagina before sexual intercourse. It starts dissolving within minutes.
However, a person should not use more than one ovule in 24 hours.
This product includes 10 vaginal suppositories that contain hyaluronic acid as the main ingredient. The company says this helps to rejuvenate the vaginal tissue and renew moisture.
There are no hormones present in the suppositories.
The manufacturer recommends using the product every 2–3 days, preferably before bed.
This gel provides vaginal moisture and contains cranberry extract, lactoferrin, and potassium thiocyanate.
It is water-based, and there are no parabens and glycerin present in the formula. The company says this makes the product suitable for people with sensitive skin. It also recommends this gel for individuals of any age group.
A person can also reportedly use this lubricant any time they experience irritation, redness, and discomfort.
These suppositories have a moisturizing formula containing avocado oil, aloe leaf juice, coconut oil, and beeswax. The company claims its product is safe for people with sensitive skin and contains vitamin E to help nourish and soothe the skin.
The suppositories are free of parabens and phthalates, and Carlson does not test its products on animals.
Puremedy’s ointment claims to relieve vaginal dryness and discomfort and works on people with thin skin.
Its formula includes organic ingredients such as beeswax, extra virgin olive oil, and elderflower. The company does not test on animals, and the product does not contain petroleum, chemicals, or parabens.
People should apply this moisturizer to their vagina based on their doctor’s guidance.
The following table shows how the six vaginal moisturizers differ:
|Vaginal moisturizer||Price||Form||How to use|
|Replens Long-Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer||$22.79||cream||one applicator every 3 days|
|K-Y Liquibeads Vaginal Moisturizer & Lube||$14.97||ovule||30 minutes before having sex and not more than one ovule in 24 hours|
|Bonafide Revaree Vaginal Moisturizer||$59.95||suppository||every 2—3 days before bedtime|
|Luvena Enhanced Personal Lubricant||$19.99||lubricant||at any time|
|Carlson Key-E Suppositories||$9.20||suppository||up to 4 suppositories per day|
|Puremedy Feminine Moisturizer Herbal Ointment||$13.95||ointment||as needed|
Some factors that people should consider when buying a vaginal moisturizer include:
- Ingredients: Products should contain non-irritating ingredients and ideally without fragrance, phthalates, or parabens.
- Form: Vaginal products come in different forms, such as gels, capsules, and suppositories. People should choose their preferred form and check how they should apply the moisturizer before committing to a purchase.
- Compatibility: Some products are compatible with condoms. However, Breastcancer.org advises against the use of oil and petroleum-based moisturizers with this type of barrier method. This is because they can damage latex condoms, and some persons may also develop irritation.
- Cost: Vaginal moisturizers are available at different prices. Silicone-based lubricants are more expensive but typically last longer.
People should read the manufacturer’s instructions before using a vaginal product.
However, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center states that individuals can use the applicator provided with products to insert the moisturizer into their vagina. They also suggest applying the product to the inner and outer labia.
Those who have completed their cancer treatment or are going through menopause can consider using a vaginal moisturizer 3–5 times per week.
When to consult a doctor
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that women who experience irritation and pain during sex after 2 months of using a moisturizer or lubricant should consult a doctor. It is also worth seeking medical advice if other symptoms are present, such as pain during urination or abnormal discharge.
There are some common questions about vaginal dryness and treatment options, such as:
Can you use lotion for vaginal dryness?
Breastcancer.org states that deodorants, perfumes, and soaps can be irritating, and people should not use them on their vaginal area.
How common is vaginal atrophy?
According to Harvard Medical School, 50% of women during menopause experience vaginal atrophy symptoms. The Women’s Health Concern also mentions that 17% of women aged 18–50 experience vaginal dryness while having sex.
Some people may avoid seeking treatment for this condition, as they feel uncomfortable discussing it with their partner and doctor.
What other options do I have if OTC moisturizers aren’t working
If OTC moisturizers do not work, people may require prescription products. The North American Menopause Society highlights some that include:
- Vaginal tablets (Vagifem): This is a tablet that a person inserts into their vagina using a disposable applicator. They can use this product twice per week.
- Vaginal cream (Estrace or Premarin): People can also use an applicator to apply the cream inside their vagina up to 2–3 times a week.
- Vaginal ring (Estring): Doctors insert the ring into a person’s vagina, and it starts releasing estrogen. They have to replace it every 3 months.
- Ospenifene (Osphena): This is a pill to treat painful sexual intercourse that develops when a person has vaginal atrophy.
Vaginal dryness affects many people, especially those experiencing menopause. Irritation and pain during sexual intercourse can also develop.
Many companies offer moisturizers to help provide moisture and reduce discomfort. They are available as pills, suppositories, ovules, and creams. People do not need a prescription to buy them.
However, individuals who experience pain during sexual intercourse or bleed between periods should consult a doctor to discuss their symptoms and treatment options.