overcome erectile dysfunction, sex after 50, vaginal discomfort

During and after menopause, many women experience uncomfortable vaginal dryness. Many find this vaginal discomfort is as distressing as the hot flashes they endure. A new study offers a perspective on alleviating vaginal atrophy that some women will perceive as comforting, while others will find it disconcerting (JAMA Internal Medicine, March 19, 2018).

How Well Do Treatments Alleviate Vaginal Discomfort?

The usual treatment is estrogen, often as a vaginal tablet. Nonprescription vaginal moisturizing gels are also recommended. In the study, three hundred women were randomly assigned to get an estrogen tablet plus a placebo gel, a placebo tablet plus Replens, the active OTC moisturizing gel, or a placebo tablet plus a placebo gel. The study lasted three months.

The conclusion:

“neither prescribed vaginal estradiol tablet nor over-the-counter vaginal moisturizer provides additional benefit over placebo vaginal tablet and gel in reducing postmenopausal vulvovaginal symptoms.”

What Do You Think?

An editorial that was published alongside the study suggested that this is good news: it implies that any of the gels that are sold over the counter are about as good as Replens at relieving vaginal discomfort. After three months in the study, all the women reported improvement. And although some women may benefit from vaginal estrogen, the outcome of this study doesn’t suggest that it is necessary for women who may not want the additional estrogen exposure.

What Can You Do to Relieve Vaginal Discomfort?

We have gotten a number of questions from women struggling with vaginal dryness, as this young woman is:

Q. I’m 33 and had a partial hysterectomy at 27. I started a medication at 28 that affected my libido and caused vaginal dryness. This is very hard, especially at my age.

My doctor recently recommended using Crisco shortening before intercourse. This really shocked me! I’m so embarrassed to ask this, but what products will help with the dryness and not have a bad taste (if you catch my drift)?

A. Olive, almond or coconut oil might do the trick. Other options include aloe vera gel or a commercial product called Sylk that contains kiwi fruit vine extract.

Other readers offered their favorite solutions for this problem.

KS reported:

“I had a gritty-feeling vaginal itch about a year. (The never ending gifts of menopause). What finally worked for me was Queen Helene’s Cocoa Butter. I put it on after a shower (not over a raw area) and keep a small jar close by to re-apply as needed and haven’t had a bit of trouble with dryness again.”

PB has a different favorite:

Cornhuskers hand lotion is the answer. Slick as KY Jelly, inexpensive & it is water soluble.”

Gail is happy with a vaginal estrogen product:

“I have had atrophic vaginitis for years. My doctor prescribes the Estring which is a rubber-like ring that you put inside your vagina and it stays there for 3 months. It releases estrogen gradually during that time. You have to get a new one every 3 months. Also, on days when my vagina feels particularly dry even with the Estring, I use a Vitamin E suppository that is equally good for mild hemorrhoid discomfort. Works for me!”

Other women have found that taking hyaluronic acid tablets as a supplement provides unexpected relief from vaginal discomfort and dryness. Others stick with topical applications, such as aloe vera gel.

Aloe Vera Gel for Vaginal Dryness:

Q. I have been using aloe vera gel for vaginal dryness on the recommendation of my urologist. It works for me and I wanted to share this with your readers.

A. You are not the first one to suggest aloe vera gel. Another reader sent this:

“My husband and I can’t use KY Jelly or any other lubricant we have tried. They make me itch and burn.

“We have found, though, that the slimy gel that oozes from aloe leaf when you break off a piece is a very good lubricant. I hope this will help another couple.”

Dermatologists caution that some people are sensitive to aloe vera gel, while other react badly to topical vitamin E. It makes sense to test any lubricant on the forearm before putting it someplace very sensitive.

You will find a number of other suggestions for easing vaginal dryness, including olive oil and coconut oil, on this site. Aloe vera gel should be more compatible with latex-based contraceptive protection such as condoms and diaphragms, when that is a consideration. Oils destroy latex.

Other solutions to assist with vaginal dryness include the prescription drug Osphena.

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  1. Rebecca

    I’m 29. The more I read about issues that I am having, I’m beginning to think I am in tbe beginning stages of menopause. Hot flashes. Vagina dryness. Irregular menstrual cycles with and without birth control. I’m going to have to make an appointment with my GYN.

    Anyhow, I wanted to comment on the person who mentioned lube, specifically KY burning. Gylcerin and parabens are common additives in lube that many are allergic to. Try Sliquid organics or Good Fun Love. Many brands if lube are organic and don’t have these irritating ingredients.

  2. Penny
    Eden, NY

    I just want women to be aware that Premarin vaginal cream is made using pregnant mare’s urine – it’s easy to remember because it’s right there in the name PREgnant MARes uRINe. What happens is that the company abuses the horses, keeping them pregnant, killing off the ‘useless’ foals, keeping the mares hooked up to urine collectors day and night with no concern whatsoever for their wellbeing. It’s all about the mighty buck – greed and money.

    There is no reason for anyone to use Premarin in this day and age! There are many options out there for estrogen replacement creams that are synthetic – they work just as well, and no animals are harmed in order to produce it. I’m actually shocked that OB/GYNs are clueless about Premarin even though it has been around for several decades!

    They need to be informed because once they are aware of the truth, most will want to stop prescribing it. Many only prescribe it because it has been around for so long. It’s a familiar product, and therefore it’s the ‘go to’ estrogen replacement choice of doctors. Please don’t accept it! Please DO inform your doctors of the cruelty involved in the production of it. And please also spread the word to your girlfriends and families as well.

  3. Veronika

    Any of this help with Vaginal adhesions?

  4. Bsrn

    Coconut oil did not work for me. I have used Premarin cream every other day. Works great. When I get cocky, I skip a few days, and back comes the irritation. Now my alternate physician called in a prescription for a compounded cream after she was NOT happy with me using the Premarin cream. It seems to work as well. Neither is cheap but well worth it.

  5. Gina

    I’ve used Estring for 15 years. Nothing else seemed to work and my husband and I were very frustrated with other products. My ob-gyn says the small amounts of estrogen released in the vagina over a 3-month period are negligible (if cancer is a concern). I buy it from a reliable Canadian company as cost is MUCH lower.

  6. Mrs. G

    Everything we tried burned. Then I saw how to make a lubricant from boiling flax seeds on YouTube.

    Take two cups of water and add two tablespoons of flax seeds.
    Bring to a boil, and boil for one minute, then simmer for 20 minutes. Pour it through a metal mesh strainer. You can cook it down if you want it to be even thicker, but strain it first.

    I bought an ice tray with a sealing silicone cover and froze the flax-goo in it. A covered ice tray will keep the flax-goo-cubes from dehydrating in the freezer or picking up that weird “freezer smell.” I just melt one cube at a time when we need it. It’s absolutely fabulous! It doesn’t sting, burn, or dry out. BEST STUFF EVER!

  7. Coleen Brock
    Choose a StateN. C.

    No one seems to have tried Balneol. I can’t get along without it. It’s very soothing and can be used as many times as you like–no restrictions. It’s fairly expensive but takes only a little. I have to get CVS to order it.

  8. Ann

    Replens worked well for me..

  9. Janie
    Freeland WA

    Vitamin E vaginal cream does a great job with vaginal dryness, and it is safe. It does require a prescription from a medical doctor or a naturopathic doctor, and a compounding pharmacy. Fortunately I have easy access to all and have used it for years with excellent results.

  10. Betty

    I have used Vagifem for several years as a vaginal tablet to relieve a constant feeling of having to go to the bathroom. Fortunately, my GYN has had sufficient samples since very few insurances cover it. It runs about $10 per tablet and you are supposed to use it twice a week. I have found that every 6 days is sufficient for dryness and atrophy. When I recently started extending the days between applications, I started getting migraines…never had them before. After the 4th one in 2 months, I checked to see if there was a relationship between estrogen and migraines. There is, so I am back on my 6-day schedule and so far, no more migraines.

  11. Pat

    I tried the vaginal cream but after a few uses menopausal symptoms started to return. Not an acceptable tradeoff.

  12. Leigh

    I have been using Hydration Cubes 1x by Bezwecken for about 1 1/2 years, and they are fantastic! I get them from a naturopathic doctor, but you can get them online too. They contain cocoa butter, Dhea, USP Estriol, Vitamin E and beeswax. You insert one into your vagina every night just before bedtime for a week, then back it off until you’re just doing it once a week. I had tried Vagifem and various lubricants without much luck, but these have solved the problem. I use a light pad with underwear because the beeswax melts and not all is absorbed.

  13. Evelyn

    My vaginal atrophy was not an issue until I needed a pessary. I didn’t like the side effects of the estrogen suppository, so I take a teaspoon of flax meal every morning. It can be added to food, or I just wash it down with juice. Moisture restored!

  14. Cathleen H.
    Cabot Vermont

    I’ve been using, and recommending to friends and clients, an organic product from GOOD Clean Love for restoring vaginal moisture. Good for smelly or itchy days too. Has no smell itself.

  15. Karen

    I always thought you needed to use something water soluble, which would make olive and coconut oil unusable .

  16. Pamela
    North Carolina

    After experiencing painful vaginal dryness upon menopause at age 51, I sought advice from a respected medical intuitive. She suggested I take primrose oil and borage oil, both of which support women’s health. After taking gel caps totaling 2600 mg of primrose oil and 2000 mg of borage oil, respectively, within six weeks natural lubrication returned, with no side effects or need of other topical lubrication. Now 72 years of age, still taking these oils daily with my other supplements with meals. I would strongly and without hesitation recommend this natural remedy to counter vaginal dryness.

  17. Hmmmmm

    I found the best was the estrogen patch but then because of a high risk finding, I couldn’t take it any more. I miss it. It was great. I felt like myself again.
    I now use an estrogen cream which work for dryness but not hot flashes.

  18. Lorraine

    Would be great if Mona Lisa Touch laser treatment was covered by insurance. It should be!

  19. Carol K.

    Vagisil prohydrate pre-filled applicators work the best for me (no estrogen, perfumes, dyes or preservatives). You use it at bedtime.

    Replens is also good, but it has parabens in it, which I want to avoid.

  20. Vicki
    Chicago IL

    I don’t believe estrogen cream is safe for everyone. After a friend swore by it. I got a prescription (over $100 WITH insurance!), and after the second day I applied it, I got a low back ache like I used to the day before my period. The next day, I started bleeding for the first time in ten years — I’m 65! Such a waste of money. Why all these alternatives to Replens, which the study cited? My gynecologist says it is natural and most closely replicates a woman’s own biology. I’m not putting anything else inside of me except Replens.

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