What is vaginal dryness?
Vaginal dryness is common in most women, when the tissues of the vagina are not well lubricated(1) and healthy. Vaginal dryness can be a common problem at any age, but it mainly affects women who are going through or have experienced menopause.
Symptoms of vaginal dryness
The common symptoms of vaginal dryness may include.
- Vaginal discomfort, itchiness, irritation or burning sensation.
- Painful intercourse(2) or discomfort during sex
- Mild vaginal discharge
- Less interest of sexual drive
- Light bleeding after intercourse
- Repeated urinary tract infection
Causes of vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness is often caused by a decrease in estrogen levels(3). Estrogen is a female sex hormone which helps keep the vagina well lubricated and healthy. These are some of the factors in which the production of estrogen level decreases:
- Breastfeeding or childbirth
- Surgical removal of ovaries
- Smoking habit
- Immune disorders
- Menopause time
- Anti-estrogen medicines
- Cancer treatments
Here are some simple home remedies to treat vaginal dryness without any side effects.
Coconut oil is good for skin and is a natural hair moisturizer. It contains lauric acid which is a fatty acid able to deeply moisture the skin. Coconut oil plays an important role in strengthening and promoting healthy skin. Apply coconut oil on vaginal walls to reduce itchiness and burning sensation caused by the dryness. It has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties which reduce the risk of urinary tract infections and yeast infections. There are no side effects in using coconut oil, but try to use extra-virgin coconut oil(5) that is pure and safe, as it is not mixed with any other essential oil.
Women’s health specialists suggest that aloe vera gel is good for dry or inflamed skin around the vaginal area as it is helpful in alleviating the dryness. Aloe vera contains full of water and essential nutrients such as vitamin A, C and E. All these nutrients are known for its multiple skin applications, due to its hydrating properties. It can hydrate the vaginal area, and also reduces itchiness and dryness by improving production of natural lubricants. Apply twice daily inside and around vagina, also drink a glass of fresh aloe vera juice daily to heal the problem from within.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is considered as good remedy to treat vaginal itching due to its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Its acidic nature helps restore the pH level(6) of the vagina, thus makes it difficult for the bad bacteria to continue living. Take one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and raw honey. Mix it in warm water. Drink twice daily to balance the good and bad bacteria present in the vagina.
Olive oil is packed with lipid lubricant that is full of unsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids help enhance hydration and repair vaginal tissues. According to women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D the small amount of extra virgin olive oil applied on the vulva protects the skin and certainly can help with lubrication issues. There are a few things to keep in mind before applying olive oil on the vaginal area. Women who already have yeast or bacterial infection should be cautious of this remedy, since it may increase the risk of future infections. Also, its important to use this oil in moderation, since applying too much on the vaginal walls may irritate things down there or it may increase vaginal discharge(7).
Luke warm water with baking soda is one of the best natural remedies to treat vaginal dryness. Soaking the vaginal area in baking soda solution will bring back the alkaline inside the vagina, this makes it an unfriendly atmosphere for harmful bacteria. So, the best way to clean the vagina is making a dilute solution of baking soda with lukewarm water. However, some researches argue that baking soda can increase the pH level of the vagina, which may further increase the yeast infection. It is better to consult a doctor before trying this remedy.
The skin of vagina is more susceptible to dryness if not taken care of properly. If the body is not properly hydrated with water the outside and inside skin of vagina and are more likely to get dry. So, keep in mind taking enough water keeps the vagina well-lubricated and its really good for skin and health. Drinking lot of water also helps flush out the toxins from the body.
Sesame oil has number of therapeutic uses. Both the seeds and oil are believed to have important properties such as anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and estrogen-like effects. During menopause, women may experience vaginal dryness problem due to a decline in levels of female hormone. As a result, the vaginal lining becomes drier, less elastic, and thinner. This creates pain, itching, or irritation during intercourse. Apply sesame oil on the vaginal walls to increase the lubrication and relieve symptoms associated with vaginal dryness.
Estrogen deficiency may lead to risk for many health problems such as sleeping disorders, mood swings, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, joint pain,cardiovascular disease, and reduced bone density. Turmeric is a proven phytoestrogen and this modulate the activity of body estrogen. Turmeric can treat all the above ailments by balancing the estrogen levels.
Fenugreek seeds are an excellent herb for women’s overall health. Including fenugreek seeds in daily diet can improve the hormonal balance. This helps produce estrogen levels in the body and helps increase the vaginal lubrication. Take one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds, soak in water overnight. Drink the water in the morning or boil fenugreek seeds in a glass of water, cool down and drink.This simple home remedy can ease the symptoms of vaginal dryness.
Vitamin E oil
Vitamin E oil antioxidant and immune boosting properties. These two properties are very effective in treating vaginal dryness. It is helpful in moisturizing the dry skin and restore the elasticity. Applying vitamin E oil on the vaginal walls helps soothe irritation and itching caused by vaginal dryness. It treats vaginal dryness, also provides enough lubrication that eases friction during sexual intercourse.
Twenty minutes of regular exercise helps maintain the cardiovascular health and can increase the blood flow to the vagina as well. The two hormones called estrogen and testosterone starts decline with age and menopause. This will have a direct effect on vaginal atrophy and dryness. Pelvic floor exercise(8) helps to maintain hormone balance by motivating the adrenal glands and ovaries. So, it is advised to do regular exercises to optimize vaginal health and lubrication.
Jojoba oil is similar to human sebum, the antibacterial property and moisturizing agents makes this oil as a perfect ingredient to use in the vagina. Also, the anti-inflammatory property helps reduce the itchiness in the vagina due to the dryness. Wash the vagina and pat dry before applying jojoba oil. Dip two fingers in the oil, apply inside and around the vaginal walls. Leave it for 30 minutes and wipe it off. Repeat this thrice a week to get rid of vaginal dryness.
Flax seeds(9) are identified as phytoestrogen foods which are plant foods that certainly have estrogen in them. Consuming flax seeds can balance the estrogen levels. Take a spoon of flax seeds, soak in water. Consume soaked flax seeds, this will digest easily and gives the most benefits. Grind flax seeds and sprinkle it onto cereals, salads, smoothies, yogurt or any other food items. Regular consumption of flax seeds keeps the vagina well lubricated and prevents vaginal dryness.
Other food items to lubricate vagina
- Soy and soy products can boost the estrogen levels. It is considered as an excellent natural lubricant to vagina.Being rich in isoflavones, phytoestrogens, calcium, protein, and folic acid, soy can cope up with vaginal issues like hot flashes, redness, itching, night sweats and vaginal dryness.
- Fish holds omega-3 fatty acids which is very helpful in reducing vaginal dryness. Take canned tuna or salmon fillet to improve the estrogen levels and reduce the chance of vaginal dryness.
- B-complex vitamins can promote the formation of red blood cells, and keeps the vagina well lubricated.
- Sweet potatoes are also good for vaginal health. They are rich in vitamin A which keeps the uterus and vaginal walls strong and energetic.
- Nuts and seeds are also rich in vitamins and minerals which helps regulate menstrual cycle and combats itching and dryness. Consuming almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds promote vaginal lubrication.
- Dark chocolates are rich in minerals and antioxidants. It boosts the flow of blood to vaginal area. Better flow improves the vaginal health, leads to better sexual desire and satisfaction.
- Avocados are rich sources of potassium and vitamin B6(10), these two nutrients boost the desire for sex. Also the healthy fatty acids presents in avocados help keep the vaginal walls well lubricated and strong.
How to prevent vaginal dryness
- Avoid using scented feminine hygiene products, deodorants and perfumed products in and around the intimate area.These products might upset the harmony of the vagina.
- Doing pelvic floor exercises can keep the vaginal muscle strong, elastic and healthy.
- Take more time before having sex, also make sure the body is fully relaxed and aroused.
- Avoid using bubble baths, lotions,soaps, and douches around the vaginal area. This may further worsen the dryness.
- Water-soluble vaginal lubricants before having sex is always safe and healthy.
- During sex, enjoy more foreplay and allow the body to produce its own natural lubricants.
It is always better to consult with a health care practitioner before trying any home remedy.