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Best Remedies for Vaginal Dryness

Lauren Katulka

If you're dealing with vaginal dryness (also known as genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM))  and its associated symptoms of burning, irritation or pain during sex, you're definitely not alone.  Although this symptom set is often most common in postmenopausal women, it can start to manifest at any age1 According to the Cleveland Clinic, approximately 17% of women between the ages 18 and 50 may experience vaginal dryness during intimacy or day to day activities; some may even experience it much earlier than their menopausal years.2

While it tends to be more noticeable during the menopause transition, when estrogen levels are most volatile and then steeply decline, vaginal dryness can occur for a variety of other reasons. Women may experience dryness when they are postpartum and during lactation, or even after something as benign as regularly taking certain allergy or cold medications.3

Vaginal dryness can be frustratingly disruptive to your daily life, making anything from sex to walking in jeans, to even sitting for long periods of time, a bit uncomfortable. Luckily, there are a selection of solution options available that can help ease the discomfort of vaginal dryness and get you back to feeling your absolute best.

Improving Vaginal Dryness with Hyaluronic Acid

You probably know hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient in many anti-aging skin creams and serums. However, hyaluronic acid has also been shown to help improve vaginal dryness and its associated symptoms.Several studies have demonstrated this ingredient's effectiveness to manage this symptom set, including a 2013 study that found just 10 applications of a vaginal gel containing hyaluronic acid (following a regimen of one dose every three days) improved vaginal dryness and its associated symptoms in postmenopausal women by 84%, over 30 days, with no statistical difference in results as compared to estriol cream.5

Another, more recent clinical study, conducted by NYU Grossman School of Medicine, demonstrated that there was no significant difference between the performance of the hyaluronic acid and estrogen cream when it came to the management of vaginal dryness.6 And unlike some women who use hormonal management options, such as estrogen/estriol creams, gels, or suppositories, those who use hyaluronic acid rarely experience side effects, and certainly no hormonal side effects.  

It's possible for allergic reactions or sensitivities to hyaluronic acid to occur, but these are uncommon. This is mostly due to the fact that hyaluronic acid is an already naturally produced substance in the body that tends to decrease over time and with age.7 Hyaluronic acid is an active ingredient in several vaginal moisturizers and lubricants on the market, however, Revaree®, by Bonafide® is one that over 7,900 healthcare providers recommend to their patients to effectively relieve vaginal dryness.

Vitamin E for Managing Vaginal Dryness

According to research, Vitamin E is associated with hormone production and plays an important role in supporting stable estrogen levels in the body. This is why it can work to help relieve symptoms of vaginal dryness.8 It's also known to protect cells against the deteriorating effects of oxidative stress, aging and certain diseases.9 

In 2022, one specific clinical study found that vitamin E suppositories could work to alleviate a range of symptoms of GSM, including vaginal dryness.10 Additional studies have shown that suppositories containing vitamin E (and D) could help to reduce vaginal dryness among women, specifically those receiving radiotherapy and on tamoxifen treatment for cancer. 11 More research, however, needs to be done to more specifically quantify the effectiveness of this vitamin and its impact on vaginal dryness and its associated symptoms. 

Try to Avoid Perfumed Products

Scented products are often another common culprit of vaginal irritation that may also contribute to, or even trigger, vaginal dryness. Scented douches, soaps, deodorants, lubricants, and lotions can all be culprits.12 Particularly for those who have sensitive and more delicate intimate skin, as a way to avoid irritation and possible dryness, do your best to opt for fragrance-free products designed for sensitive skin, as those may be better options for you.

Manage Vaginal Dryness with Sexual Activity

It may seem counterintuitive when you're struggling with vaginal dryness, but having more sex or incorporating more sexual activity into your routine could potentially ease your symptoms. Sexual activity has been shown to help boost blood flow to the genitals to keep tissues healthy and to stimulate natural lubrication.13 Be sure to take your time engaging in foreplay before attempting sexual activity, to ensure you're fully aroused, and consider using a lubricant to feel even more comfortable. No partner? No problem. Self-pleasure can be just as effective for stimulating blood flow to the genitals.

Estrogen or Hormonal Treatments Are Also Available

Replacing some of the estrogen your body loses during menopause is another way to combat vaginal dryness. There are several estrogen-based hormone treatment options available, including:14

  • Topical estrogen creams or gels for the vagina
  • Oral estrogen medications
  • Estrogen skin patches and implants
  • Estrogen-releasing rings inserted into the vagina
  • Estrogen tablets inserted into the vagina

These prescription therapies typically contain one of the following estrogen types: estradiol, one of the most common types of estrogen found in the body, or estriol, the main type created during pregnancy.15,16 Estradiol is the most common estrogen treatment used for managing menopause symptoms like vaginal dryness, but it can cause some undesirable side effects.17 Estriol (which is only available through compounding pharmacies) is the weakest of the main estrogen types so, treatments containing it are a bit gentler on the body and are less likely to cause adverse events.18 However, some people may still experience side effects such as bloating, headaches, and nausea – especially with systemic hormone use.19 Hormonal treatment options can carry some risks and are therefore prescribed exclusively by healthcare providers, who can closely monitor your well-being while you are using them.

Take Control of Your Vaginal Dryness

Although uncomfortable, vaginal dryness is not an uncommon symptom and is one that many women struggle with. There are quite a few products, therapies, and treatments available to help improve your vaginal lubrication and moisture in order to make life, and sex, more comfortable and enjoyable. Simply changing the products you use and focusing on your sexual wellness could give you some relief, but if you're still experiencing symptoms, be sure to chat with your healthcare provider about the best management options for you.

Resources:

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/21027-vaginal-dryness
  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/21027-vaginal-dryness
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vaginal-dryness/basics/causes/sym-20151520
  4. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22915-hyaluronic-acid 
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23574713/
  6. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/996968
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482440
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5114791/
  9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1568163714000026
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9086347/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30729333/#:~:text=Conclusion%3A%20These%20data%20support%20that,therapy%20to%20improve%20these%20symptoms.
  12. https://www.webmd.com/women/vaginal-dryness-causes-moisturizing-treatments
  13. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315089
  14. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315089
  15. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/19770-estradiol-vaginal-cream
  16. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22399-estriol
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538260/
  18. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22399-estriol
  19. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22399-estriol

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