Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause. A person may experience vaginal dryness due to hormonal changes during menopause. Lubricants can help a person relieve some of the discomfort caused by vaginal dryness by increasing the moisture in the area and soothing dry skin. A 2020 review found that 50% of postmenopausal women experience vaginal dryness. This can be an uncomfortable symptom that can affect a person’s everyday life, causing discomfort during physical activity, burning, irritation, itching, and painful sex, resulting in vaginal tearing or bleeding. Although vaginal lubricants cannot treat the underlying cause of vaginal dryness, such as lower estrogen levels caused by menopause, they can relieve some of the discomfort caused by the dryness. This article discusses a range of lubricants a person can try to combat menopausal dryness. It explores the types of lubricants available, provides a list of products, and lists some alternative treatments.
Type of lubricants
There are three main types of lubricants a person can consider.
This is a common type of lubricant. Some water-based products will contain glycerin, while others are specifically glycerin-free. Water-based lubricants can also contain other ingredients, such as preservatives and antimicrobials. Glycerin keeps the lubricant from evaporating too quickly. However, glycerin can draw moisture out of cells in the vagina, which can cause cell damage and irritation. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that water-based lubricants with high osmolality — which is common in water-based lubricants — can cause irritation and cell damage. Additionally, the glycerin in some personal lubricants can increaseTrusted Source a person’s risk of developing bacterial vaginosis, according to a 2016 review Trusted Source. This is because glycerin is a byproduct of sugar, which can encourage yeast infections to occur. If a person wants to use a water-based lubricant during the day to prevent dryness, they may need to reapply it more regularly than other types of lubricant. Water-based lubricants are suitable for use during sex. This includes penetrative vaginal sex, masturbation, and for use on sex toys. A person can also use water-based lubricants with condoms.
Silicone-based lubricants are hypoallergenic, so may be the most suitable for people with sensitive skin. This type of lubricant is long lasting, so a person may not need to apply it as often as water-based lubricants if they intend to use it to relieve vaginal dryness during the day. A person can also use silicone-based lubricants with condoms. However, this type of lubricant is not suitable for use with sex toys, as it can degrade them over time. A person may also find silicone lubricants more difficult to clean than other types because they are long lasting. A 2016 study compared silicone-based lube with water-based lube in people experiencing sexual discomfort after breast cancer. The authors found that silicone-based lube was more effective in reducing sexual discomfort than water-based lube. However, 88% of participants continued to experience sexually related distress.
Oil-based lubricants provide a slippery feel and last a long time. As with silicone-based lube, a person may find that oil-based lubricants stain fabrics and are difficult to clean up. An older 2013 study found that a person may be at a higher risk of developing a yeast infection if they use oils inside the vagina. As such, oil-based lubricants may not be suitable for people susceptible to yeast infections. Individuals should not use oil-based products with latex condoms or other latex-based products, as they are associated with a higher risk of condom breakage.