Should I Use A Vaginal Moisturizer?
Hi friends! A few weeks ago we talked about using vaginal lubricants, and this week we are going to talk about a similar product: vaginal moisturizers. Moisturizers are used to help with symptoms like vaginal dryness.
Vaginal dryness can happen for many reasons:
Inflammatory bowel disease
Chronic heart failure
Medications (like antidepressants and antiestrogen)
Chemotherapy and radiation
All of these conditions can lower the level of the hormone estrogen in the body. Lower estrogen levels can a condition called vulvovaginal atrophy which leads to atrophy (wasting away) of the vaginal walls and lead to smaller amounts of natural secretions and lubrication. Lower amounts of lubrication can cause pain and discomfort with daily life and physical activities, as well as sexual function.
Vulvovaginal atrophy is a treatable condition with multiple treatment options depending on how severe symptoms are, individual preference, and other medical conditions. One of the most common treatment options is estrogen therapy, and it can include topical (cream, gel, ring/pessary) or systemic estrogen replacement therapy. However, like all medications, these estrogen therapies may come with side effects. For certain individuals, like those who have had breast cancer, estrogen is not recommended. Only you and your providers can decide if estrogen is right for you.
Vaginal moisturizers can often be use as an alternative or in addition to estrogen therapy. Vaginal moisturizers are intended for regular use,and they work by rehydrating the vaginal tissue and mimicking vaginal secretions. They typically can provide relief for 2-3 days after use, but the severity of your symptoms will determine how often you should use it.
If vaginal moisturizers (or lubricants) do not have similar pH and osmolality that is similar to natural vaginal secretions they can be irritating to the vaginal tissue and cause itching and soreness if they.
You can find some of our favorite vaginal moisturizers here:
Vaginal laser therapy is a new treatment being used for vulvovaginal atrophy with promising results, but more research is needed and there are risks of serious side effects like burns and scarring.
Remember that while we are physical therapists, we are not YOUR physical therapist and the information contained in this blog does not replace evaluation and treatment by a licensed healthcare provider.
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Hormones, Menopause, and Pelvic Health with Dr. Jill Krapf, MD, Med, FACOG
Birth Control, Hormones, and your Vulva with Dr. Jill Krapf, MD, Med, FACOG
Postpartum, Hormones, and the Pelvic Floor with Dr. Jill Krapf, MD, Med, FACOG
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT
Potter N, Panay N. Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers: a review into use, efficacy, and safety. Climacteric. 2021;24(1):19-24.