The vaginal canal is lined with moist mucous membranes that secrete a nutrient-rich fluid to lubricate the vagina as well as create a suitable environment for the healthy bacteria that make up the vaginal microbiota. This environment helps create an environment that is alkaline enough to allow for sperm to travel up the vagina for the purpose of fertilization but also moist enough to allow for comfortable sexual penetration without friction. When the vaginal fluid is reduced, a woman can experience vaginal dryness which can result in vaginal and pelvic discomfort. Typically, as a woman ages, the vaginal wall becomes thin and vaginal secretions lessen. This is generally associated with menopause, however, there are several other causes of vaginal dryness as well.
In this article, we will be discussing solutions both menopause-related and non-menopause-related vaginal dryness.
Vaginal dryness can be a sign of an underlying condition or simply the effect of certain habits or medicines, such as:
- Sjoegrens Syndrome
- Excessive Exercise
- Cancer Treatment
- Cigarette Use
- Removal of Ovaries
Vaginal dryness itself is a symptom, however, there are other associated symptoms such as:
- Burning in the vagina
- Soreness in the vagina
- Painful sex
- Itching of the vagina
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Bleeding after sex, etc.
Remedies for Vaginal Dryness
It is crucial to be careful when picking a lubricant. Many OTC lubricants may relieve feminine dryness temporarily but most are not made at the correct pH for the vagina and can alter the naturally acidic environment within the vagina which may raise the risk of acquiring UTI’s. If the lubricant contains glycerin, it can break down into sugars which raise the risk of yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Its best to use a lubricant that maintains a normal pH balance and contains natural ingredients that are proven to be safe for intra-vaginal use such as hyaluronic acid (1), chamomile (2), fennel (3) or fenugreek (4).
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic adaptogenic herb that is used for improving strength, stamina and neurological health as well as certain hormone-related conditions such as hypothyroidism. It is also a potent fertility-promoting herb that is also able to significantly improve sexual function in woman. Ashwagandha is able to raise testosterone, luteinizing hormone as well as seminal quality and motility in men while improving orgasms, arousal, sexual satisfaction and lubrication in woman (5). This is a potential option for woman experiencing vaginal dryness that is not related to menopause.
Fenugreek is a medicinal herb that has been well studied for its uses in multiple conditions including menopause and Diabetes Type 1. It is also highly useful for increasing breast milk production and significantly boosting libido in both men and women (6). Fenugreek is often used as a tea for improving the symptoms of menopause, boosting hair growth and reducing blood sugar. Interestingly, in clinical research, Fenugreek has proven to improve various symptoms related to menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats, estradiol levels and vaginal dryness (7). It is important to keep in mind that Fenugreek can reduce blood sugar levels and should be used with caution when using anti-diabetic drugs.
Certain foods are also associated with better sexual function in woman including proper lubrication of the vagina, improved sexual desire, satisfaction, arousal and reduced pain. It is important to keep in mind that the body is a product of nutrition – meaning that our foods are the building blocks of every cell including those of the vaginal mucosa and its secretions. Certain foods can be considered as evidence-based home remedies for dryness, but it is crucial to treat the underlying condition in order to correct the problem .
A few examples of foods that can help with lubrication and sexual are:
- Apples are associated with with better sexual quality of life (including lubrication) in young woman (8)
- Fats from foods like avocado are associated with improved hormone levels in postmenopausal woman. This leads to better sexual function (9).
- Saffron is able to improve sexual arousal, lubrication and pain in woman experiencing antidepressant induced sexual dysfunction (10).
- Sea Buckthorn Oil is able to improve the integrity of the inner lining of the vagina and help with vaginal dryness (11).
- Wine consumed in moderate amounts regularly is linked to better sexual health in woman. This includes better lubrication and sexual desire (12).
Keep in mind that lubrication is directly dependent on hydration, therefore, consuming enough water and electrolytes is important as well. A good amount of electrolytes can be found in coconut water, raw fruits such as watermelon and avocado as well as cruciferous vegetables.
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(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
by Dr. Nishal R.
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