Vaginal dryness is a common complaint during menopause.
That itchy, uncomfortable feeling when you sit, stand, or exercise happens to as many as 1 in 3 women.
The good news is that you don’t just have to deal with menopause dryness — natural remedies can help.
In this article: 📝
- Why is vaginal dryness a problem during menopause?
- How can I increase my natural lubrication?
- Things to avoid if you have vaginal dryness
- Does menopause dryness go away?
Why is vaginal dryness a problem during menopause?
During perimenopause, your periods become increasingly irregular because your body stops producing certain hormones — including estrogen.
Unfortunately, estrogen isn’t just important for releasing a healthy egg each month. It also has a role to play in:
- stimulating the glands that lubricate your vagina
- keeping the muscles of your vaginal wall toned and elastic
When your body’s hormone levels dip below a certain point, your vaginal muscles become less stretchy and more sensitive, and your skin becomes drier.
This is sometimes known as vaginal atrophy (but to be honest, we’re not fans of that term).
The more up-to-date term is genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM).
And as this research shows, it’s far more accurate in describing the full range of symptoms associated with GSM and tying them to the estrogen drop that happens around menopause.
GSM and menopause dryness can make you uncomfortable — not just during penetrative sex, but also when you’re exercising, standing for a long time, or just sitting and minding your own business.
Put that together with pain during sex, itching, and more frequent infections down there, and it doesn’t take long to start asking, “how do you fight menopause dryness?”
The good news is, it’s possible.
How can I increase my natural lubrication?
It’s important to point out that the scientific evidence behind natural remedies for menopause dryness isn’t conclusive yet.
Some treatments help some women, but it’s always a good idea to discuss your options with your doctor before you start any supplements or make a drastic change to your diet or routine.
With that in mind, if you can’t (or aren’t ready to) go down the route of menopausal hormone therapy, these are some of the other remedies you can try.
1. Eating soy and flax
When the phytoestrogen compounds are broken down in your gut, they mimic the effect of estrogen on your cells and may encourage your vagina to lubricate itself.
Soy (edamame beans, tofu, or miso) and flax seeds have some of the highest levels of phytoestrogens.
Adding soybeans (aka edamame) to a salad or mixing a spoon of flax into your breakfast are some of the fastest ways to up your intake.
But again, we just don’t know enough about these remedies yet.
Estrogen-rich foods have their own controversy.
And although some studies have found that soy extracts can reduce the frequency of hot flashes, there’s no specific study on soy and vaginal dryness.
2. Breathing essential oils
A quick caveat here: undiluted essential oils can be harsh on sensitive skin.
We’re not talking about putting the oils near your vagina.
Rather, massage them onto your pulse points, inhale them from a diffuser, or put a few drops on your pillow or exercise mat.
Some evidence suggests that essential oils may help with sexual function for some people — but we don’t know enough yet.
But provided you use them safely, they can help you de-stress and feel calm.
So they might be worth a try anyway!
If you’re curious about aromatherapy, the classic oil for menopause is clary sage.
The oil from this plant is thought to make most menopause symptoms more manageable (although, again, more research is needed in this area.)
Any oils that promote relaxation can help, so look out for ylang ylang, frankincense, and roman chamomile to add to your essential oil blend.
3. Drinking herbal teas
If you head to any health foods store, you’ll be able to find a herbal tea that claims to help with menopause symptoms, including vaginal dryness.
Some classic ingredients are licorice root, calendula, comfrey, and ginseng.
And while the jury is still out on whether they’ll help with lubrication, they can be soothing to drink regardless.
There’s a slight note on safety here as well, though.
4. Eating probiotics
Probiotics can work wonders for your whole body.
They keep your gut healthy, which is important for your immune system and general well-being.
And this will hopefully have the knock-on effect of making your menopause symptoms a little easier to deal with.
Natural yogurt and fermented foods like kombucha and sauerkraut are great natural sources of probiotics.
Even if these foods don’t help vaginal dryness directly, they’ll help to support your immune system and make you less prone to the infections (like urine infections and bacterial vaginosis) that can sometimes accompany vaginal dryness.
5. Taking a multivitamin
A multivitamin isn’t technically a “natural remedy,” but it’s a safe and easy way to support your body.
Highly recommended vitamins for keeping you healthy include calcium, vitamins B and D, and omega 3.
Look for a menopause supplement that ticks those boxes.
6. Having regular sex
It might be the last thing on your mind if your libido is low and/or sex is painful.
But sex (with lots of foreplay and water-based lubricant) increases blood flow to your vagina, which should encourage your natural lubrication to kick in.
And if you’re in the market for natural lube, coconut oil is a great option.
Pelvic floor exercises will also get the blood flowing and can help to strengthen your muscles if you have GSM.
Things to avoid if you have vaginal dryness
As well as knowing what improves menopause dryness, fighting this common symptom is easier if you can avoid the things that might make it worse.
When it comes to vaginal dryness specifically, it’s also good to avoid fragranced soaps and bath products, which can irritate your skin.
If you can find a pH-neutral and soap-free body wash to use instead, your skin will thank you.
And it’s important to note that some common medications work by drying out your mucus membranes.
You might take them for allergies, motion sickness, or as a decongestant, but they could also make your vaginal wall drier.
Not to mention birth control has also been found to lead to vaginal dryness.
So while you can’t always avoid these medicines, it’s good to be aware that they can have some unintended effects.
Does menopause dryness go away?
Unfortunately, if you have vaginal dryness during perimenopause, there’s a chance it’ll stick around after menopause too.
The good news is that vaginal dryness is manageable.
As many as 50% of women hesitate to go to the doctor for this issue, but it’s one of the easiest menopause symptoms to treat.
If menopausal hormone therapy is an option you’d like to consider, you can get topical, low-dose estrogen in the form of a vaginal cream, tablet, or slow-release ring.
Alternatively, your pharmacist will be able to recommend a moisturizer specifically designed to be used in the vagina.
And don’t forget, you can talk about all things menopause with the women in the Peanut menopause community.
You don’t have to do this alone.