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    Vaginal Health

    • March 19, 2020
    • Written by The Love Den

    Concerned about Vaginal Dryness?

     

    The vagina makes its own natural fluid which acts as lubrication. The fluid keeps the vagina elastic and healthy. 

    When women are sexually aroused, their vagina will produce extra fluid. This fluid helps reduce friction. It makes putting anything into the vagina more comfortable. This also helps make sex feel more pleasurable.  

    When the vagina does not produce enough fluid, it causes vaginal dryness and may lead to uncomfortable intercourse as well as other irritating sensations.

    What causes vaginal dryness? The 3 main causes of vaginal dryness are: 

    1.  Older age. Dryness in the vagina is common as women age. The dryness also causes the vagina to be less elastic. Women may start to see changes in their natural lubrication in their late 40s and early 50s. Women produce less estrogen as they get older. Estrogen is a hormone that plays an important role in keeping the vagina moist.
    2.  Lower amounts of estrogen in your body. This can be caused by menopause (when a woman’s monthly menstrual period stops). Menopause can happen naturally with age or can be caused by some types of surgery, such as surgery to remove the ovaries.  
    3.  Some types of cancer treatment. Cancer treatments that can cause vaginal dryness include:  ▪ chemotherapy ▪ radiation to the pelvis or vagina ▪ surgery to the vagina or reproductive organs  

    What will happen if my vagina is dry all the time? 

    Over time, dryness in the vagina can lead to: • pain (especially when you have sex) • burning • itching • higher chance of getting an infection in your vagina • higher chance of getting an infection in your urinary tract (this includes your urethra, bladder, kidney)

    It is important to keep your vagina moist, even if you are not having sex.

    What can I do to prevent vaginal dryness? 

    There are 2 things you can do: • Ask your doctor if you can take estrogen. This will help reduce vaginal dryness and other menopause symptoms. Estrogen is not a safe option for women with some types of cancers. Ask your doctor if you can take it. Doctors can prescribe estrogen as a pill that you take orally (swallow) or as cream or a ring that goes inside your vagina. • Use vaginal moisturizers and lubricants. They will help make your vagina less dry and more comfortable. Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants will also help increase your pleasure during sex. You can buy these without a prescription. They are a safe and useful choice for most women.

    Talk to your health care team if you have any questions or concerns.

     

    Types of Vaginal Moisturizers and Lubricants

    Vaginal moisturizers are long-lasting. They keep your vagina moist all day. Vaginal lubricants last a short time. They are often used to give added moisture to your vagina just before sex or pleasuring. 

    Use vaginal moisturizers and lubricants to help you: • prevent dryness • increase pleasure during sex

    You can use moisturizers and lubricants together, or just use one at a time.

    Always follow the instructions that come with the product.

    Vaginal moisturizers keep your vagina moist all day. They work much like the way normal body lotion does. 

    You may use normal body lotion to keep your skin smooth and moist all day. In the same way, you can use vaginal moisturizers to keep the inside of your vagina moist all day. 

    Unlike vaginal lubricants, vaginal moisturizers are not meant to be used just before sex.

     Use a vaginal moisturizer 2 to 3 times a week, even if you are not having sex. This will help keep your vagina healthy and comfortable. 

    There are different types of vaginal moisturizers. Follow the instructions on the package to make sure that you are using the moisturizer safely. You can buy vaginal moisturizers at most pharmacies.

    There are 4 types of vaginal moisturizers: • Creams. Replens and Zestica Moisture are examples of vaginal moisturizing creams. You can insert the cream into your vagina with an applicator 2 to 3 times per week. • Gels. Gels are used in the same way as creams. They are usually a little bit lighter in colour and texture. • Suppositories. Moisturizers also come in vaginal suppositories. Suppositories are like pills or capsules that you put inside your vagina. Do not swallow vaginal suppositories. • Natural oils. Some examples of natural oils are:  ▪ natural Vitamin E liquid capsules ▪ natural coconut oil  ▪ natural almond oil 

    These natural oils can be applied with your fingers in and around your vagina. You can also use them all over your body as a moisturizer or massage oil.

    You can buy natural oils at some pharmacies. They can also be found at most health food stores.

    Do not use any oils with condoms. Oils will break down the latex in many condoms. A damaged condom will make it more likely for you to get pregnant or infection from your partner. 

    Do not use these products inside your vagina: 

    • petroleum-based products (such as Vaseline) • hand or body lotions • massage oils not designed for use inside the body  

    These can change the pH (acidity) in your vagina and can increase your chance of getting an infection.

    Vaginal lubricants help add to your vagina’s natural moisture. A lubricant makes it easier to insert things into the vagina. It will help increase comfort and pleasure during sex. 

    Vaginal lubricants are also called: • personal lubricants • body glide • sexual lubricants • lube

    There are many different brands and types of vaginal lubricants. You can buy these at your local pharmacy. You can also find these in shops that sell sex-related products.  

    There are 3 main types of lubricants: • water-based  • oil-based  • silicone-based  

     

     Water-based lubricants are the most common type of sexual lubricant. They can also be used to make it easier to insert dilators or tampons into your vagina. These are also the easiest kind of lubricants to find in a store. They are safe to use for most sex-related activities.

    Water-based lubricants are the best option to use with: • condoms • diaphragms (a cup-shaped device inserted into the vagina to prevent pregnancy) • rubber dams (a small thin rubber or latex sheet used as a barrier to help prevent sexually transmitted infections) • other barrier ways of preventing pregnancy and infection  Water-based lubricants come in liquids, gels, and lotion styles. They can safely be used with vibrators and other sex toys. 

    If you get yeast infections often, use a lubricant that is glycerine-free. Glycerine breaks down to a sugar in the vagina. The sugar feeds the yeast in your body and may cause more to grow. 

    If you have sensitive skin, use water-based lubricant: • with more organic or natural ingredients • free of parabens (added chemicals), perfumes, flavors and colors

    Water-based lubricants can dry up fast and become sticky. For this reason, it is not a very good choice for a body massage. If water-based lubricants dry up, you can add a little water or saliva to make it slippery again.

    What are some product examples of water-based lubricants? You can find a very wide selection of brands of water-based lubricants. 

    What is an oil-based lubricant? Oil stays moist and slippery for a long time because it does not absorb easily into your skin. 

    Oil-based lubricants are great for full-body and intimate massage (including breasts and genitals). They are also useful to use for manual stimulation (sexual stroking using the hand and fingers) of the penis and clitoris. Manual stimulation with a lubricant often feels very good for both men and women.  

    Do not use oil-based lubricant: • With latex condoms. It will damage the latex. This will make it more likely for you to get pregnant or get an infection. • With sex toys. The oil will damage the toy.  • Inside your vagina. Many oil-based products are very hard to wash off or to flush out of your body. Synthetic (non-natural) oils can stay in your vagina for days. 

    This can change the pH (acid) level in your vagina, making it easier for germs to grow. It can lead to infections in your vagina and urinary tract. One example of synthetic oil is petroleum jelly (Vaseline).  

    Natural oils (e.g. natural coconut or almond oils) are often safe to use inside your vagina as they are easier for the body to clear, but they should not be used with latex condoms or sex toys.  

    What are some product examples of oil-based lubricant? Some examples of oil-based lubricants are: • natural Vitamin E liquid capsules • natural coconut oil • natural almond oil • 

    As mentioned above, natural oils can be used inside your vagina since they are easier for the body to clear.  They can be found at some pharmacies and grocery stores, and most health food stores.

    Vitamin E oils are often sold in capsules. They can be found in the vitamin section of most pharmacies. You can poke a small hole in the Vitamin E capsule to get the oil on your fingers.

     A silicone-based lubricant is the newest option of sexual lubricant. It stays slippery much longer than water-based lubricants. This is because unlike water, silicone does not: • dry up in the air • absorb into the skin • absorb into the bloodstream. It stays on the surface of your body and inside your vagina, making it last longer.

    Silicone-based lubricants can be used during sexual pleasuring (including penetrative sex) and for massage. It can be applied to any part on the body that you want to caress or massage.  

    A silicone-based lubricant is a good option for women who: • Have sensitive skin. Silicone is hypoallergenic (will not cause allergies). • Often get yeast infections. Silicone will not change the pH (acid) level in the vagina. This keeps the yeast in control. • Often get urinary tract infections. Silicone will not change the pH level in the urinary tract (urethra, bladder, kidney), so it does not increase your chance of getting a urinary tract infection.

    Your body clears out silicone-based lubricant inside the vagina by itself. To get rid of the slippery feeling on the outside of your body after use, wash off any extra lubricant with soap and water. 

    A silicone-based lubricant is safe to use with: • condoms • diaphragms (a cup-shaped device inserted into the vagina to prevent pregnancy) • rubber dams (a small thin rubber or latex sheet used as a barrier to help prevent sexually transmitted infections) • other barrier ways of preventing pregnancy and infection  

    Do not use a silicone-based lubricant with other products that are made of silicone, such as: • sex toys • vibrators • dilators

    Over time, these products can become damaged by the silicone in the lubricant. 

    Silicone-based lubricants tend to cost more money than water-based lubricants. But compared to the water-base lubricants, you will need to use less because of this the same size bottle will last longer. 

    What are some product examples of silicone-based lubricants? Silicone-based lubricants are newer so there are fewer products to choose from. You can find more choices in stores that mainly sell sex-related products. Some examples of silicone-based lubricants include: • Pjur • Pink • Wet Platinum

    When to Get Medical Help

    Call your family doctor if:  

    •  You notice any new or worrying:  ▪ discharge (fluid) coming out of your vagina ▪ pain ▪ smell ▪ bleeding • The pain or dryness in your vagina does not get better or gets worse. • You have questions about when you can start having sex again after surgery or other treatment. • You want to know whether it is safe for you to use hormonal treatment with vaginal moisturizers and lubricants.

     

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