There are many products on the market that can help relieve the pain and discomfort that occurs with your dry vagina. In this article, we’ll look at one such solution, vaginal moisturizers and how they can potentially improve the way your vagina feels.
What are vaginal moisturizers?
Vaginal moisturizers are used in the vagina to replenish vaginal tissue. Similar to how a facial moisturizer would keep your face hydrated, a vaginal moisturizer has the same job, ultimately helping to keep the tissues on both the inside and outside of the vagina moist and healthy.
Uses of vaginal moisturizers
The primary reason why vaginal moisturizers are used in the first place is because of vaginal dryness, and to overcome the discomfort that comes along with it. Moisturizers rehydrates the tissue inside your vagina.
Many women experience vaginal dryness. In fact, about half of peri menopausal and post menopausal women have vaginal dryness. It can cause pain during sex and for this reason many woman don’t enjoy sex.
Normally, due to neurotransmitter-mediated mechanisms the vagina will produce a thin fluid called vaginal transudate that will keep itself moisturized. However, when the production of this fluid declines, the vagina is said to be dry. Vaginal dryness be caused by several factors, but the most common one is menopause.
During menopause, the body naturally produces less and less estrogen. This hormone is responsible for making a woman a woman, meaning it develops female physical traits such as breasts and wide hips and also promotes the production of vaginal fluids. Since there is a decrease in estrogen production, a woman will experience vaginal dryness.
Another cause of vaginal dryness is anti-estrogen medication. These are taken to treat certain conditions such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Taking this medication has several side effects including vagina dryness.
Certain hygienic practices such as over washing the vagina and douching may also cause vaginal dryness as the much-needed moisture is washed away in an effort to keep the vagina “clean”. But we already know that this isn’t necessary as the vagina cleans itself and you taking it upon yourself to do its job will strip it of moisture and good bacteria.
Vaginal dryness may also be caused by stress, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic heart failure, multiple sclerosis, childbirth, breastfeeding, chemotherapy, radiation, smoking and antidepressants.
Furthermore, there are physiological factors that can affect vaginal lubrication. Not engaging in enough foreplay, decrease libido, and genitalia sensation can also can result in decrease vaginal lubrication.
Are vaginal moisturizers the same as vaginal lubricants?
Don’t get vaginal moisturizers confused with vaginal lubricants. Both vaginal moisturizers and vaginal lubricants are placed inside of the vagina to provide lubrication and combat dryness, however, there are few differences in functionality and purpose.
On one hand, vaginal moisturizers are used to treat chronic day-to-day dryness and are reapplied daily, every other day, or twice a week. They are absorbed into the tissue and help to keep the vaginal tissue moist since the vagina is unable to produce the needed daily moisture.
On the other hand, vaginal lubricants are used primarily during sexual intercourse to reduce the discomfort vaginal dryness would cause. These are applied every time you have sex and are fast-acting. However, they have no significant impact on overall vaginal health and are not absorbed into the skin.
What are the pros and cons of vaginal moisturizers and vaginal lubricants
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of vaginal moisturizers. Perhaps that will give you a better understanding of what they each do, and help you to make a more informed decision.
- Reduces vaginal dryness
- Can last for up to 3 days
- Are relatively inexpensive
- Improves sex life
- Reduces the risk of bleeding, infection, and irritation
- Can cause irritation
- Might not provide enough lubrication for intercourse
- Improved sex
- Wide variety of lubricants to choose from (water-based, silicone, oil, natural)
- Can be flavored and odored
- Some are non-staining
- Some can work in water, for pool or shower-sex
- Some have a warming effect to enhance orgasms
- Some dry up quickly and constantly have to be reapplied
- Can be messy and cause stains
- Some can increase the risk of certain vaginal and uterine infections
- Some can damage latex condoms
- Some can cause allergic reactions
How to choose a vaginal moisturizer
With so many vaginal moisturizers on the market today, it will be a bit hard to decide which one to buy. Here is a quick guide that will help you choose the best one for your needs:
- SAFE- The first thing you should find out is if this product is safe. Reading online reviews will give you insight on the experiences other users had with this product and if you are willing to risk any side effects. You should also pay attention to its ingredients which could potentially cause irritation or worsen your symptoms, for example, parabens)
- HEALING- While some moisturizers only address the dryness and provide a temporary solution, you will want to look for a moisturizer that will heal the underlying cause of the dryness so that you won’t have to use a moisturizer forever.
- PREFERENCE- Vaginal moisturizers have different textures, tastes, and smells. One might be off-putting but has a great consistency, and another might taste great but dries out quickly. You will have to find a balance that suits your personal preferences.
- EASY TO USE- Last but certainly not least, you will have to find a moisturizer that is easy to use and has simple directions. Some even come with applicators that make inserting the moisturizer a breeze.
How to use vaginal moisturizers
If you or your doctor have decided that using a vaginal moisturizer will be the best choice for treating your vaginal dryness, then you will need to know exactly how to use it. Here are a few tips that should help:
- The first thing you should do is read the information provided on the label or the company website on how you should use it if there are any special instructions for that specific product.
- Then, wash your hands/applicator thoroughly.
- If your vaginal moisturizer comes with an applicator, insert it into the vagina and squeeze the plunger or applicator to release the moisturizer inside of your vagina. If it does not come with an applicator, squeeze a pea-sized amount onto your finger and insert it into your vagina.
- To determine how many times you should repeat this process, read the label for instructions, or consult your doctor. You may also reapply when necessary, i.e when you experience irritation.
- Wash your hands/applicator and store your moisturizer for later use.
If you experience any form of irritation, or if your symptoms worsen, stop use immediately and consult your doctor. While moisturizers are for daily hydration use, it may not be enough for sexual activity. In that case, you can use a lubricant whenever you are ready to have sex.
What we’ve learned
- Vaginal moisturizers relieve vaginal dryness.
- Vaginal dryness can be caused by several factors, from menopause to vaginal hygienic practices.
- Vaginal moisturizers are different from vaginal lubricants.
Choosing a vaginal moisturizer should be dependent on how safe it is, its ability to heal underlying causes of vaginal dryness, your personal preference and how easy it is to use.