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NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal Dryness

    What causes vaginal dryness?

    Vaginal dryness is a very common problem, which can affect women at any age, however mainly occurs during and after the menopause. This is because during reproductive years oestrogen plays a key role in maintaining a healthy vagina. As levels fall the vaginal mucosa (lining) thins and causes inflammation of the vaginal walls. The number of normal vaginal bacteria decrease which alters the normal acid balance.

    Possible symptoms include

    • Vaginal dryness
    • Pain during sex
    • Vaginal itching, burning or irritation
    • Frequent or recurring vaginal or urinary infections
    • Thrush-like-symptoms
    • Lack of bladder control

    The causes of vaginal dryness

    There are many causes of vaginal dryness including:

    • Lack of oestrogen (e.g. menopause, contraception, post delivery, breast feeding)
    • Skin conditions (e.g. lichen sclerosis)
    • Chemical irritants (e.g. soaps, detergents)
    • Drugs (e.g. Tamoxifen, chemotherapy, antibiotics)
    • Infections (e.g. yeasts, bacterial)

    The underlying oestrogen deficiency changes can be improved by Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), or with vaginal oestrogen which is effective and safe. Oestrogen vaginal cream, pessaries or rings act locally, and are not usually absorbed in significant amounts into the rest of your body, so they can be safely used for many years and often by women who can’t otherwise take HRT.

    Vaginal moisturisers and lubricants can be used alone or along with hormone replacement therapy. Many are readily available over the counter and some can be prescribed.

    If you have noticed any skin changes (e.g. pale areas, lumps, bumps, splitting skin, thickened skin or bleeding areas) it is important to seek medical advice.

    The difference between vaginal lubricants and moisturisers?

    Lubricants

    Lubricants provide short-term relief from vaginal dryness, and discomfort during sex. Some products act as both lubricants and moisturisers.

    Moisturisers

    The main aim is to rehydrate the vaginal mucosa (lining), by adhering and increasing the fluid content within it, recreating it’s natural shape, elasticity and acidic balance.

    They do not reverse age-related changes associated with oestrogen deficiency. The effects last longer than lubricants and are used every 3 days.

    What are they made from?

    Most products are water based, however they can be silicone or plant based. Water and silicone based products do not damage latex condoms, unlike oil based products e.g. Vaseline, baby oil or lotion. Silicone based products can damage silicone sex toys, and shouldn’t be used together. Products differ in their additives, which may include glycerine, parabens, and emollients.

    They are available in individual sachets, prefilled applicators or tubes with vaginal inserters.

    What is the best?

    There is a lack of current data to support what product is best, and it is really a personal choice.

    There is some evidence to suggest that paraben containing products may mimic oestrogens e.g. KY Jelly. Therefore those who wish to avoid all hormonal therapies should avoid these options.

    Those with specific allergies to plant based products e.g. nuts and KIWI may wish to patch test products or consult the manufacturer prior to use.

    How can I get these?

    Many products are available over the counter, or can be ordered and purchased through your pharmacist/online. Many companies will post out free samples to try. Some products listed are available on NHS prescriptions. You should discuss this with your gynaecologist or general practitioner.

    Product

    Description

    Ingredients

    Available on NHS Prescription

    Yes Water

    Based ®

    Water based lubricant & moisturiser

    Paraben Free

    Sylk  ®

    Water based lubricant & moisturiser

    Paraben Free

    KIWI derived  (*care with allergies)

    Regelle®

    Water based moisturiser

    Paraben Free

     

     

    Hyolofemme®

     

     

    Water based moisturiser

     

    Paraben Free Hyaluronic Acid derivative

     

     

    Durex Sensilube®

     

    Water based lubricant

     

    Contains

    Parabens

     

    Durex Play®

    Water based lubricant

     

    Paraben Free

     

    Pasante Light Lube®

    Water based lubricant

     

    Paraben Free

    Free

    www.freecondoms.scot

    Pasante TLC®

    Water & silicone based lubricant

    Paraben Free

    Free 

    www.freecondoms.scot