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Addressing Vaginal Dryness: what you need and what products are legit.

Many women have vaginal dryness with menopause, when they are breastfeeding, or with long term oral contraceptive use.  There are a lot of products out there, claiming they can help.  Let’s break down the products and discuss which ones are reputable.  All of the options we will discuss are over the counter products and they are non-hormonal. 

  1. Vaginal moisturizers are products used inside the vagina, namely in the vaginal canal.  If you are having vaginal dryness, you might have irritation during intercourse, itching, burning, or urinary leaking.  Even though these products go in your vagina, they aren’t a replacement for lubricants during sex.  Vaginal moisturizers are usually used 2-3 times per week and are designed to maintain tissue health and hydration in the vagina.  Some good options include vaginal moisturizing gels, vitamin E suppositories, and hyaluronic acid suppositories.  Some good brands are:
    Replens suppositories or gels Long-Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer | Replens
    Vitamin E suppositories.  Carlson Key-E Suppositories 24 Ct – Swanson® (swansonvitamins.com) 
  1. Vulvar moisturizers are applied only on the outside genitalia, this tissue is called the vulva.  Moisturizers used here help to protect the vulvar skin and create a barrier to the skin.  These can be used daily like hand lotion.  Symptoms of vulvar dryness can be pain or spotting after intercourse, pain wearing tight or synthetic clothing, skin irritation after shaving or waxing.  Vulvar moisturizers can also act as a vulvar protectant with exposure to irritants like chlorine while swimming, pad or period underwear usage, or urine from leaking.  Our favorite option at the clinic is Vulvar Balm. VMAGIC Vulvar Care Product Collection | Vmagic Skin Care – Medicine Mama 
  1. Personal lubricants are used to decrease friction with sexual activity.  Lubricants help to decrease friction and improve comfort with intercourse.  These products can be applied on the vaginal opening, called the introitus.  These products can be water, oil, or silicone-based products.  It is important to note that oil-based lubricants should not be used with latex condoms as the oil can cause condom failure.  You may also want to check the ingredient list for glycerin, glycol, parabens, scents, flavors, and dyes as these can cause irritation for some people. 

    Some key things to look for in a lubricant:
    pH level should be between 3.8 and 4.5 for the vagina, and between 5.5 and 7 for the anus. 
    osmolality (the concentration of the ingredients that are not water)  If the osmolality is too high, the lubricant can pull fluid from the vaginal tissue and lead to more discomfort, infections, or fissures. 
    Vaginal lubricant should be about 380 mOsm/kg or lower. 

    Some good options for lubricants include
    – Slippery Stuff Amazon.com: Slippery Stuff Paraben Free Water based Lubricant – 8oz. by Slippery Stuff : Health & Household,
    – Good Clean Love Almost Naked® Organic Personal Lubricant 4 oz | Good Clean Love, and
    – UberLube Our Products – Überlube, Inc. (uberlube.com).  
    – Coconut oil

    If you are struggling with discomfort with intercourse, you should seek the help of a pelvic floor PT! We offer a free, 15 minute phone consult to help answer any questions and make sure you are in the right place to get well!

Sarah is the proud co-owner of Foundational Concepts, Specialty Physical Therapy which opened in March 2013. Sarah lectures at the University of Missouri Department of PT, University of Kansas Departments of PT and Nurse Midwifery, and at Rockhurst University Department of PT. She is board certified in Women’s Health PT and holds certifications in medical therapeutic yoga, lymphedema therapy and dry needling.

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