Increasing Lubrication During Menopause

Increasing Lubrication During Menopause

As for any medical advice, it is always recommended that you consult your doctor or pharmacist prior to any treatments.

How Can I Increase Lubrication During Menopause?

Vaginal dryness is a common condition in postmenopausal females (ie, people who have been through menopause). This condition is also common in people who have had both of their ovaries surgically removed, for example, to treat or prevent cancer. You may hear your health care provider use the term "atrophic vaginitis" or "genitourinary syndrome of menopause."

Vaginal dryness may not be bothersome, but in some cases it can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, such as pain with sex, burning vaginal discomfort or itching, or abnormal vaginal discharge. There may also be related urinary symptoms, such as frequent or painful urination. These symptoms may lead to less satisfying sex and avoidance of sexual intimacy.

Fortunately, there are several effective treatments available. If you have symptoms of vaginal dryness, talk to your health care provider about which treatment is right for you.

CAUSES

The hormone estrogen helps to keep the vagina moist, maintain thickness of the vaginal lining, and keep the tissue flexible (also called "elasticity"). Vaginal dryness occurs when your body does not produce enough estrogen. This can be permanent or temporary and can occur at different times throughout life, such as:

At the time of menopause (one year after monthly periods stop.

After surgical removal of the ovaries, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy of the pelvis to treat cancer.

After having a baby in those who are breastfeeding – Estrogen production returns to normal when breastfeeding becomes less frequent or is stopped.

While using certain medications, such as danazol, medroxyprogesterone (brand names: Provera, Depo-Provera), leuprolide (brand name: Lupron), or nafarelin – When these medications are stopped, estrogen production usually returns to normal.

TREATMENT

There are several treatment options for vaginal dryness. Some, such as vaginal moisturizers or lubricants, are available without a prescription. Others require a prescription; these include a vaginal estrogen cream, tablet, capsule, or ring; an oral medication called ospemifene; and a vaginal tablet called prasterone. These treatments are usually used continuously with monitoring, as they only work temporarily; your symptoms will return when the treatment is stopped unless your ovaries start producing more estrogen again.

Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers — You can buy these without a prescription in most pharmacies. Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers do not contain any hormones and have virtually no systemic (body-wide) side effects. Possible local side effects include irritation or a burning feeling after application.

Lubricants are designed to reduce friction and discomfort from dryness during sexual intercourse. The lubricant is applied inside the vagina and/or on the partner's penis or fingers just before sex. Products sold specifically as vaginal lubricants are more effective than lubricants that are not designed for this purpose, such as petroleum jelly. In addition, oil-based lubricants like petroleum jelly, baby oil, or mineral oil can damage latex condoms and/or diaphragms and make them less effective in preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. Lubricants that are made with water or silicones can be used with latex condoms and diaphragms. Polyurethane condoms can be used with oil-based products.

Natural lubricants, such as olive, coconut, avocado, or peanut oil, are easily available products that may be used as a lubricant with sex. However, it is important to know that, like the oil-based lubricants, natural oils are not recommended for use with latex condoms or diaphragms, as they can damage the latex. Water- or silicone-based lubricants are a better choice if you use condoms or a diaphragm.

Vaginal moisturizers usually include hyaluronic acid and are formulated to allow the vaginal tissues to retain moisture more effectively. Moisturizers are applied into the vagina (as a gel or suppository) approximately three times weekly to allow a continuous moisturizing effect. Be sure to check the label to ensure that you are purchasing a moisturizer and not a lubricant.

 Both lubricants and moisturizers are also available in preservative-free forms.

Hand and body lotions and moisturizers should not be used to relieve vaginal dryness since they can be irritating to the vaginal tissues.

SEXUAL ACTIVITY

Treatments may improve dryness quickly, usually within a few weeks. If sex is not uncomfortable, you can continue to have sex as you treat vaginal dryness. Intercourse may help the vaginal tissues by keeping them soft and elastic. If sex continues to be painful despite treatment for vaginal dryness, talk to your health care provider.

 

 

 

Back to blog