You may develop a dry vagina for several reasons, including some medications/treatments, menopause, and ovarian disorders. The amount of lubrication your vaginal cells normally produce is stymied, and you are left with a dry vagina. This can interfere with sex, or cause discomfort.
Lubricants for use during sex
Using a lubricant during sex can make penetration much more comfortable. The lubricant that is right for you, however, will vary depending on your needs, for example do you need to use latex condoms, or are you using silicone toys/dilators. When it comes to lubricants, there is a lot of choice, and we advise using a good brand – the cheapest water-based lube is not going to be the nicest, so if you can, invest in a beautiful lube that you will love to use. It makes a huge difference to your sexual experience.
Avoid perfumes, colours, spermicides and flavours, or any special sensation-makers (cooling, warming, chilli). You don’t want any irritation, especially if you are already undergoing other treatments or have irritated vaginal cells. Avoid petroleum-based products like Vaseline, especially with condoms.
How to use lube
Apply some lubricant inside the vagina and around the vulva, and on your partner’s penis/fingers/toy before penetration. This can be incorporated into sex play before penetration starts, and you may need to reapply during sex if it is going to last more than a few minutes. You are the best judge of how penetration feels. Don’t let it get raw or painful or uncomfortable – you will pay for it later.
Vaginal moisturisers for daily use
A vaginal moisturiser may be required for daily or every other day use so that your vagina can stretch and move without discomfort. Some treatments can cause your vagina to dry out, and in combination with lubricant use during sex, you may wish to use a vaginal moisturiser each day to stay supple. Vaginal moisturisers don’t contain any hormones and are available without prescription.
Vaginal moisturisers can keep the pH stable for two or three days, while also providing moisture that remains on the vaginal walls, as opposed to dripping out. This is due to the special ingredients of vaginal moisturisers. Usually you apply the vaginal moisturiser at night, so it stays put for longer. A vitamin E capsule may also be used vaginally as a moisturiser – use a clean needle to make a small hole in the liquid gel cap, and either insert the whole thing into your vagina, or use your fingers to spread the oil around. Vitamin E may stain clothes.
Vaginal oestrogen creams
You may need to top up nature’s dwindling supplies of oestrogen by using a topical cream, and in some cases, systemic hormone replacement therapy. Your hormone treatments will need to be discussed with your healthcare practitioner, since not all treatments are safe for all women.
Vaginal oestrogen is best matched with testosterone, since oestrogen stimulates the top layer of cells, while testosterone stimulates the deeper levels, providing all-round improvements.
Hyaluronic acid serum
A hyaluronic acid gel, made from about one per cent hyaluronic acid, is a very good vaginal moisturiser. Hyaluronic acid was found, in one study, to be just as effective as oestrogen cream for dry vaginas in menopause, and can be used as a vaginal moisturiser.