Vaginal dryness can cause discomfort during sex as well the need to urinate frequently, and itching and burning sensations. First of all, know that you are not alone. About 10 to 40% of women after menopause frequently experience vaginal dryness, although this condition can occur at any age.
The good news...you don't have to live with vaginal dryness. Sexual lubricants can bring back the pleasure.
The most common causes of vaginal dryness are:
- Lower estrogen levels just before or after menopause, childbirth, or while breastfeeding
- Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy
- Use of certain medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, cold medicines
- Sjogren’s syndrome
Your doctor may choose to do a pelvic exam to make sure that no other conditions are responsible for your vaginal dryness. During the exam you will be tested for infections or other conditions and may be asked to undergo a urine test.
Lubricants are substances designed to ease dryness, prevent friction, and make sexual intercourse more comfortable and enjoyable for both partners.
There are several products available, including:
- K-Y Jelly
- Liquid silk
- Moist Again
- Slippery Stuff
What They Are Used For
- To treat vaginal dryness, often associated with:
- Post-partum period, due to the hormonal changes following childbirth and breast-feeding
- Some medications, including leuprolide, danazol, tamoxifen, antihistamines, ulcer medications, antidepressants, blood pressure medications
- Strenuous exercise
- Use of oral contraceptives
- To enhance sexual pleasure
- To make condom use more enjoyable
How They Work
Lubricants provide moisture to reduce friction during intercourse and can increase sensation and comfort for both partners.
Not all lubricants are created equal. Do not use any of the following as lubricants:
- Petroleum-based products, such as Vaseline, mineral oil, and baby oil can cause the latex in condoms to break down, increasing the risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and pregnancy.
- Moisture creams and lotions can interfere with the body's pH levels and cause irritation or infection.
- Food can cause a yeast infection.
- Industrial lubricants, such as WD-40 are not made for human use, and may be dangerous.
Check the ingredients
Many lubricants include nonoxynol-9. This is a type of detergent that has been shown to kill viruses, including the HIV and herpes viruses. It is a common ingredient, used in everything from baby wipes to contraceptive foams, but it can be irritating to sensitive skin. This ingredient may also have a medicinal flavor.
Sexual Health Network
OBGYN.net: The Universe of Women's Health
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Last reviewed January 2008 by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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