Vaginal Moisturizers and Menopause

If you’re like me, you like your humor like you don’t like your vagina … dry.  Is your hoo-haa feeling a little like the Sahara Desert lately? Well, guess what: You’re most likely getting ready for the ride of your lifetime (or you already have both hands in the air and are already in the middle of loop-the-loops). Either way, welcome to the menopausal transition. One of the key indicators of the change is vaginal dryness. So, it’s time to get our vajayjays some thirst quenchers. Yes, I’m talking about vaginal moisturizers. Super sexy, right?

vaginal moisturizers

Vaginal Dryness Basics

Why Does Vaginal Dryness Happen?

Why do our nether regions suddenly become as dry as a sponge left out in the Arizona heat 24 hours after the community cheerleader carwash has ended? Well, vaginas are usually nice and moisturized with a thin layer of clear fluid. Estrogen is the hormone that helps maintain that fluid and keeps the vagina lining healthy, thick, and elastic. When the menopause transition happens, your hormones are all out of whack. Estrogen levels start jumping all over the place resulting in … you guessed it … less moisture in the vagina.

According to the smartypants researchers at WebMD, “Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause—and close to one out of every three women deals with it while going through ‘the change.’ It becomes even more common afterward. It also makes the vagina thinner and less elastic. This is called vaginal atrophy.”

Does Vaginal Dryness Hurt?

So, does this lack of vaginal moisture cause pain? The short answer is, it certainly can. As you can imagine, vaginal dryness might result in painful sex. There ain’t no shame in the lubrication game though, so lube up. Vaginal dryness also makes you feel sore and itchy down there, gives you the feeling that you need to pee all day every day (this is referred to as urinary incontinence), and creates urinary tract infections (UTIs). We know, it’s about as comfortable as sleeping on a mattress made of sandpaper. Why can’t we transfer all the moisture on our forehead caused by hot flashes and night sweats to our vagina?!

Will Vaginal Dryness Affect My Sex Life?

One of top questions people approaching the menopausal journey ask is: Can I still rock my sex life during midlife?” Yes! Even with menopausal changes, you can learn how to enjoy sex during midlife. The medical professionals at Healthline say that during menopause “you might notice that your libido, or sex drive, is changing. Some women may experience an increase in libido, while others experience a decrease. Not all women go through this libido decrease, though it is very common. In most cases, a lower libido during menopause is due to decreased hormone levels. These decreased hormone levels can lead to vaginal dryness and tightness, which can cause pain during sex. Menopause symptoms can also make you less interested in sex.” So while you can rock your sex life during menopause, you may not want to, and that’s okay too! There are plenty of other creative ways to achieve intimacy. For example: Instead of trying new sex posititions, try new snuggle-on-the-couch-or-beach-blanket positons.

Vaginal Dryness Treatments

What Is a Safe Remedy for Menopause Symptoms?

So, are there really and truly any safe treatments for menopausal’s many symptoms? The good news is that there are more than just one safe remedy for menopause symptoms like vaginal dryness. And I’m here to show you what’s up for down there. If you’re feeling like your bits are a bit on the dry side, try the following.

Use Vaginal Creams and Vaginal Moisturizers

Lube is going to be your new BFF (if it isn’t already). And, if you’re too embarrassed to buy it at the store, then let online shopping be your other BFFMS. (Best Friend For Menopause Shopping.) When buying lube, make sure you buy the water-soluble kind. You could also just look in your pantry! Regular old coconut oil works fantastically, and tastes better than most artificial lube options. It’s the ultimate *all natural* for when you’re going au naturale, aka naked. If you don’t, then your lube might weaken latex*. Weakened latex means weakened condoms, which can result in STDs (and potential pregnancy if you aren’t officially menopausal). See the math there? It’s best to play it safe. 

*Note that there are also non-latex condom options for those with an allergy or sensitivity! We’re not talking about your grandmother’s non-latex options. Many major brands, including Trojan, Durex, and Lifestyles (called SKYN) have non-latex options! Even some without an allergy prefer the non-latex options for a “closer feel.” And by “closer feel,” we of course mean closer to feeling like you’re not wearing a condom.

According to my friends over at WebMD, “Vaginal moisturizers like glycerin-min oil-polycarbophil (Replens) and Luvena can also be used on a more regular basis to maintain moisture in the vagina. You can also talk to your doctor about vaginal estrogen therapy. An oral drug taken once a day, ospemifeme (Osphena), makes vaginal tissue thicker and less fragile, resulting in less pain for women during sex. The FDA warns that Osphena can thicken the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and raise the risk of stroke and blood clots.”

As I always say, it’s best to speak to your healthcare provider if you go the medication route. You need to find a product that works for you.

Adjust Eating Patterns

Did you know that adding in more fruits and vegetables might help make menopausal symptoms easier to deal with on the regular? According to our pals over at Poisee, “Your diet is probably the first place to start in terms of managing symptoms of vaginal dryness. Vaginal lubrication comes from glands in the cervix, as well as vagina, but a majority of the vaginal fluid is actually from the bloodstream and forms droplets of fluid rich in sodium, potassium, calcium and other electrolytes and proteins that seep through the vaginal cells into the vaginal lumen or canal. Staying well hydrated is critical, as well as eating a healthy diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids and proteins.

A diet high in fatty acids may aid in producing additional vaginal lubrication. Raw pumpkin, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and fish (especially salmon, mackerel and tuna) are great choices that are high in fatty acids. Vitamin A and B supplements and beta-carotene also have high levels of omega 3 fatty acids. You should also eat foods that contain isoflavones, which can help regulate declining estrogen levels. Foods high in isoflavones include flaxseed, soy, legumes, cherries, nuts, apples and celery. I also recommend that women supplement with a multivitamin/multimineral with additional B complex vitamins. Poor diet and hydration definitely affect vaginal secretions, blood flow and lubricity. We know that drinking plenty of fluid is good for our skin. Well, the lining of the vagina is basically skin. So, think what’s good for your face is also good for your vagina!”

Wow, that’s a fun fact to *face*!

Reduce Stress

Yes, I know this is easier said than done. However, vaginal dryness can stem from emotional causes. But, what if the very thing stressing you out is vaginal dryness itself? I get it. Therein lies the catchiest-22 of menopause. The mind-body connection is real, so focus on self-care.

Also, just a friendly reminder … self-care is SO IMPORTANT. Yes, that’s in call caps. When you put yourself first by doing self-care activities that give back to you and your body, you improve your overall wellness and feel … well …  happier. There’s no secret here. The whole point is to feel better! You also show others that you place a value on yourself, which makes them more likely to place value on you. If you’re looking for simple ways to improve your self-care, then these self-care tips are what you need to check out. And depending on your views about it, masturbation definitely may count as self-care. It can be great for relieving stress and testing out those new natural lubes! All in all, it’s a very *touching* solution.

Communicate With Your Partner

Sex used to be so simple. Maybe all it took between you and your partner was a simple code word, back scratch, or booty squeeze to show you were in the mood. Now that you’re less worried about checking into the Red Roof Inn, getting pregnant, and having kids walk in on you (yikes!), you’d think your sex life would be on fire, right?! But just when you’re ready to get a little sugar in your bowl, menopause decides to throw a little twist and shout into your dirty dancing. (Hey, at least hot flashes are making other parts of you feel on fire, yeah?) The sexual changes during menopause may feel overwhelming but, believe it or not, they can make sex even better. Score! (In this post, when we yell “score,” we mean it in the *wink wink nudge nudge* way.)

Regardless of your definition of sex or your experiences with sexual changes during menopause, midlife doesn’t have to wreck your sex life. You can fight back and reclaim your sexual self. Your sexual interests might change. Your desires might be different. Your needs might shift. That’s totally OK! Work on figuring out what you like, including what feels good and what feels less-than-good. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box (pun intended) and get creative. It’s time to rethink what’s good for you and your partner and come together (fingers crossed, this pun is very intended) and COMMUNICATE. Communication is indeed the key ingredient for better sex, but it comes with a bonus prize: a stronger emotional connection!

Consider (and Go To) Therapy

I cannot overstate how important Communication with a capital C is here. If you have a difficult time talking to your partner about sex, I humbly recommend going to couples therapy or even one-on-one therapy. Hey, we’re busting through all the stigmas here, so let’s toss in an aversion to therapy. Therapy can help you start to talk your way through things and figure out a healthy way of discovering the new you, potentially the even sexier you.

As much as society wants us to think that penetrative sex is the only way to go, if you feel pressured in that way, reread the sex definition section above. I’m here to tell you to be adventurous. Look at intimacy through a different lens, explore more options, be open to changing your sexual routines, and have open and honest conversations with your partner to amp up the emotional connection in your relationship.

What Are Medicinal Remedies for Menopause Signs and Symptoms?

According to the fine folks over at WebMD, “​​The most common treatment for vaginal dryness due to low estrogen levels is topical estrogen therapy. These replace some of the hormones your body is no longer making. That helps relieve vaginal symptoms, but it doesn’t put as much estrogen in your bloodstream as the hormone therapy you take in pills.”

There are three main types of vaginal estrogen:

  • Ring (Estring): A soft flexible ring that you or your doctor can enter into your vagina. The ring releases a steady stream of estrogen directly into the tissue. The ring needs to be replaced every three months.  
  • Tablet (Vagifem): The table is inserted into the vagina via a disposable applicator. You will need to insert a tablet once a day for the first two weeks and then twice a week until you no longer need it.
  • Cream (Estrace, Premarin): The cream is inserted into the vagina via an applicator. You will need to apply the cream daily for 1-2 weeks and then cut back to three times a week based on your doctor’s instructions.

WARNING (because I care about you and your health): There is not a lot of research on the long-term use of topical estrogen. So, do your research, talk to your health providers, and do what feels best for you.

It’s a Wrap!

Vaginal dryness is just a “fun” little perk of the menopausal transition. Even though it can cause a lot of uncomfy feelings such as itchiness and pain during sex, there are treatment options available. Hallelujah!

From picking up lube at the store to talking to your healthcare provider about medicinal options, you don’t have to feel like you have a desert between your legs forever. Swallow your pride (hey, we all deal with vaginal dryness at one point or another) and use your brain up here for your bits down there. And hey, don’t knock lube until you try it. And if it works, keep trying it, and trying it, and trying it. 😉


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