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Beneficial Vitamins for Vaginal Dryness

Alex Fulton

Written by Alex Fulton

Alex Fulton

Written by Alex Fulton

Although it may be less talked about than the hallmark menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood swings, vaginal dryness is actually quite common during the menopause transition.

Caused by fluctuating and declining estrogen levels, vaginal dryness is linked to other vaginal changes that include itching, burning and pain during sex.1 Collectively known as genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), these symptoms affect up to 84% of postmenopausal women—and can take a significant toll on quality of life.2

Fortunately, many vitamins and nutrients have been shown to be effective for managing and easing vaginal dryness and other GSM symptoms during and after menopause. Understanding more about what vitamins for vaginal dryness can help ease symptoms during perimenopause and menopause may help you decide on which one is right for you.

What’s the Link Between Hormone Changes and Vaginal Dryness?

Among its many other functions, estrogen works to help keep vaginal tissue moist and pliant. When estrogen levels fluctuate and drop during perimenopause and menopause, the tissues of the vulva and vaginal lining may become thinner, drier and less flexible.3 Lower estrogen can also result in less vaginal lubrication, which contributes to vaginal dryness and its associated symptoms. 

Are There Any Helpful Vitamins for Female Lubrication?

Many nutrients have been shown to provide a beneficial effect on vaginal tissue, offering much-needed moisture and relieving symptoms such as itching and burning. Whether you’re getting these nutrients from the foods you eat, dietary supplements or topical applications, here are some of the best vitamins to consider for vaginal dryness.

Vitamin E for Vaginal Dryness

“Vitamin E vaginal suppositories and/or vitamin E oil used topically, may improve vaginal dryness,” says Dr. Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG, Bonafide Chief Medical Officer. One study suggests that although Vitamin E used topically is less effective than estradiol cream, it’s effective nonetheless.4 This makes topical vitamin E products a potential option for women with vaginal dryness who are unable or unwilling to use hormones.5

More research is needed to assess oral vitamin E use and effectiveness for vaginal dryness. In terms of its safety profile, while vitamin E can cause sensitivity in some people, it’s generally considered safe for most.6

Vitamin D for Vaginal Dryness

In a review of six clinical studies done looking at the effect of vitamin D on vaginal dryness – some with vitamin D alone, others with calcium plus vitamin D – findings suggested that both oral vitamin D supplementation and vaginal suppositories might help to improve vaginal dryness and vaginal health.7 One study suggested that vitamin D improved the growth of vaginal tissue cells, improved vaginal pH and decreased vaginal dryness in menopausal women.8

It's important to note, while more studies need to be done to determine the true efficacy of vitamin D on vaginal dryness, adequate intake of this vitamin is preferred for supporting bone and general overall health9 during menopause and beyond.

Fish Oil May Support Female Lubrication

Fish oil supplements (as well as salmon, tuna and other fatty fish) contain a type of “good” fat, known as omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to support vaginal tissue health. One study of postmenopausal women found that supplementing with 3.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids significantly improved vaginal dryness over a period of six months.10

DHEA May Help Ease Dryness

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone that’s already naturally produced in the adrenal gland.  A synthetic version of DHEA is available as a tablet, capsule, powder, topical cream or gel. “DHEA acts as a hormone precursor, which metabolizes to estrogen and testosterone once inserted into the vagina,” Dr. Dweck explains.11 In fact, a prescription formulation of DHEA, indicated for painful intercourse due to menopausal vaginal atrophy, is FDA approved and can be available through your healthcare provider.12

Because it is converted into estrogen or testosterone and may therefore pose some risks for people with hormone-sensitive types of cancer, DHEA is currently not recommended for breast cancer patients or survivors.13 “It may also cause some vaginal drainage or leakage,” Dr. Dweck cautions. She adds that the recommended daily insertion of DHEA suppositories might be cumbersome for some patients.

Coconut Oil as a Lubricant

“Coconut oil, used topically, is popular as a natural vaginal moisturizer (used regularly and chronically) and lubricant (used on demand for dryness and pleasure enhancement),” Dr. Dweck says. “It can be applied as a solid that then immediately melts with application, which women tend to like.”

Evidence regarding the efficacy of coconut oil for vaginal dryness is mostly anecdotal and research is limited, but she does point to a study supporting its safety for use on the skin.14

It's also possible, and important to consider, that vaginal pH can be altered alongside the use of coconut oil, in addition to an increased risk of infection for some; but again, this is not well studied.15 Be sure to check in with your health provider first before trying coconut oil or any of the above mentioned suggestions, as they know your medical history best.

Women should be aware that all oils, including coconut oil, are incompatible with latex condoms because they can cause degradation of the latex, which negatively impacts durability, potentially leading to breakage. “Also, any oil-based product could be messy or stain fabrics; think sheets and undergarments,” Dr. Dweck says.

Hyaluronic Acid for Vaginal Moisture

According to Dr. Dweck, vaginal moisturizers containing hyaluronic acid, such as Bonafide’s Revaree® vaginal inserts, are FDA cleared and ideal for the management of vaginal dryness and associated symptoms.

Hyaluronic acid has been shown in multiple studies to be effective in managing vaginal dryness and painful sex and has been determined to be safe for topical use in the vagina,” Dr. Dweck explains.16 “In fact, studies have suggested equal efficacy of hyaluronic acid to vaginal estrogen [in regard to the management of vaginal dryness] without any hormone exposure.”17

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If vaginal dryness is interfering with your quality of life — whether it’s making intimacy uncomfortable, or the itching and burning is simply driving you up a wall — don’t delay talking with your healthcare provider. Together, you can discuss your options and figure out which management option will best meet your unique needs.

Resources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7212735/
  2. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frph.2021.779398/full
  3. ​​https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/changes-at-midlife/changes-in-the-vagina-and-vulva
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5114791/
  5. https://journals.lww.com/jnmr/Fulltext/2016/21050/A_survey_of_the_therapeutic_effects_of_Vitamin_E.5.aspx#:~:text=Therefore%2C%20vitamin%20E%20suppositories%20are,with%20the%20associated%20side%20effects.
  6. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-954/vitamin-e
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6952708/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387645/
  9. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/calcium-and-vitamin-d-for-bone-health-beyond-the-basics#:~:text=Vitamin%20D%20decreases%20bone%20loss,to%20prevent%20and%20treat%20osteoporosis.
  10. https://kb.osu.edu/handle/1811/51959
  11. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-dhea/art-20364199
  12. https://us.intrarosa.com/
  13. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/dehydroepiandrosterone#:~:text=People%20with%20a%20history%20of,as%20breast%20or%20prostate%20cancer.
  14. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ijd.12339
  15. https://www.healthline.com/health/coconut-oil-sex#risks
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33293236/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20135132/

 


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