Just like certain foods can help support hydrated, more youthful-looking skin on your face, a wholesome diet may play a role in keeping your vaginal tissues more lubricated.
Here’s a look at what you can consider adding to your plate.
Why Does Menopause Often Lead to Vaginal Dryness?
The body’s production of hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, declines during perimenopause and menopause. Because these hormones, specifically estrogen, play a key role in helping the vagina stay lubricated and elastic, this shift can cause vaginal tissues to become drier and thinner. That can lead to symptoms like painful sex, burning or irritation around your vulva or vagina; you may even notice discomfort when putting on your underwear. Many women who experience vaginal dryness also may feel like they have to urinate more often or may experience more frequent urinary tract infections.1
While the hormonal shifts that accompany menopause are inevitable, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to potentially reduce the severity of vaginal dryness and its symptoms through exploring some specific dietary inclusions.
Six Foods for Vaginal Dryness
Certain menu items may help support healthier vaginal tissue and enhanced lubrication, which could improve symptoms like vaginal dryness, irritation, burning, or painful sex. Here are six dietary options for vaginal dryness to consider trying.
Fatty fish, like salmon, is a top source of omega-3 fatty acids, which has been shown to boost skin hydration from head to toe.2 And some research suggests that it could be particularly helpful for vaginal dryness: one study found that postmenopausal women who supplemented with 3.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily experienced an improvement in vaginal dryness over six months.3
Consider incorporating other types of fatty fish into your diet, too. Tuna, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines are all good choices and may all be foods that help with vaginal dryness.
These orange tubers are packed with beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A that the body needs to maintain healthy mucous membranes,4 which includes vaginal tissue. In fact, a single baked sweet potato with its skin serves up six times of the beta-carotene you need in a day.5 This could be a pretty “sweet” way to incorporate another beneficial food that helps with vaginal dryness.
Most of the research on soy foods for menopause has centered around hot flashes. But edamame and other minimally processed sources of soy, like tofu or tempeh, may also have a protective effect against vaginal dryness, especially when eaten regularly, findings suggest.6 But before upping your intake of soy, which is what’s known as a phytoestrogen, be sure to check in with your healthcare provider, just as a precaution, as these types of foods can have estrogenic effects in the body.
Incorporating this versatile superfood into your diet may also help to improve symptoms of vaginal dryness, mainly because it’s rich in healthy fats, which have been shown to keep the skin nourished. It’s also a great source of certain skin supportive vitamins, such as vitamin E, vitamin B6, beta-carotene, and omega-3s.7 You can consider adding some avocado slices into your next salad or try mixing them into your smoothie to support and help nourish your skin from the inside, out.
It may be beneficial to say ‘yes' to that side of garlicky sauteed spinach or using baby kale as the base of a salad. Like sweet potatoes, leafy green vegetables are loaded with the beta-carotene, as well as antioxidants that your body needs to support healthy vaginal tissue. So, if you’re looking for foods that help vaginal dryness, you can try incorporating more of these.
You likely know that adequate hydration is a must for glowy, more youthful-looking skin. And H20 is important for keeping your vaginal tissues lubricated too, according to one recent study.8 Try to make it a point to sip throughout the day, aiming for 11.5 cups of water total.9 Coffee, tea, and water-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables, all count towards your daily quota too.10
When to Call Your Healthcare Provider About Vaginal Dryness
As you can see, there are foods that can help with vaginal dryness. But dietary changes alone may not be enough to completely ease your symptoms. Often, adding an over-the-counter moisturizer or lubricant may make a notable difference.
If at-home changes aren't helping to ease your symptoms after a month or two,11 be sure to let your healthcare provider know. Together you can talk about other options for managing your vaginal dryness and pain, so you can feel better.