If you’ve been on the fence between drugstore lubricants and natural remedies for vaginal dryness, consider this: a study published in April last year found that women who’d used petroleum jelly in the past month were twice as likely to have bacterial vaginosis. That’s an infection which may increase risk of STDs and pelvic inflammatory disease.
The latter can lead to infertility.
Oil-based lubricants aren’t the only culprits. Douching may alter the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina and increase risk of the same infection. And many women douche – 45 out of the 141 women surveyed in the study. This, despite the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advising against the practice.
So what can you do about vaginal dryness? Opt for natural remedies, to begin with. That might be a change of habits, like drinking plenty of water or eating foods high in phytoestrogens. You might also consider switching to a natural female lubricant like HerSolution Gel, which many women prefer because it avoids most of the harmful chemicals in drugstore lubricants.
Causes of Vaginal Dryness
Don’t think for a second that vaginal dryness is strictly a menopause symptom. Many younger women have dryness issues, possibly because oral contraceptives like the pill regulate estrogen for a month. That may alter the body’s response to sexual desire, including lubrication.
Chemotherapy, stress, douching, breast-feeding, antihistamines, and some prescription medications can cause dryness as well.
In some cases, vaginal dryness can be caused by an emotional issue or a serious medical condition. You should speak with your doctor if dryness is painful, burns, itches or does not let up.
Three Kinds of Personal Lubricants
You’re probably familiar with big brands like K-Y and Astroglide. These are drugstore lubricants designed to reduce vaginal dryness and make sex comfortable. The benefit of a lubricant is it works fast – just apply and enjoy. The downside to many lubricants is they often come with dangerous ingredients, including ‘fragrance’, which are linked to cancer and could be toxic to the brain.
Personal lubricants are available in three formats:
Water-Based Lubricants – Arguably the safest kind of lubricant, water-based lubes are smooth and quickly absorbed by the body. They tend to wear out a little quicker, though, so you might need to re-apply.
Oil-Based Lubricants – Higher up the synthetic scale, and frankly with no additional benefit, an oil-based personal lubricant performs the same function, and may last longer, but it’s sticky and might corrode condoms.
Silicone-Based Lubricants – These are made in laboratories from dimethicone, dimethiconal and cyclomethicone. They’ll go the distance and last longer than water-based and oil lubricants and provide good slippery results. The downside: chemicals, and ingredients that ain’t got no business on your privates or in your bloodstream.
Silicone lubricants should not be used with sex toys either because they can deteriorate plastic and cheap materials.
Note too that many lubricants used to have some form of a spermicide. One of the most common was nonoxynol-9 (N-9), which was originally marketed to protect against STDs, HIV and unwanted pregnancy. Current evidence suggests N-9 does not perform these functions and might have the opposite effect. While most companies stopped using N-9, you should only use a spermicide if a diaphram is your main source of birth control.
Study: Petroleum Jelly Linked to Vaginal Infection
While previous studies have linked douching to adverse effects like infection and higher risk of STDs, little research has been done on other vaginal products, like lubes. That’s according Joelle Brown of the University of California at San Francisco, and lead researcher on a new study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, which found that women who’d used a petroleum jelly in the previous month were 2.2 times more likely to have an infection.
The study consisted of women from different racial backgrounds who agreed to be scanned for STDs. Just over a quarter of them were HIV positive. Slightly more than 21% of participants had the infection, while 6% had problems with yeast.
Half the women had used a vaginal product in the weeks leading up to the study, be it a personal lubricant, petroleum jelly or baby oil. Almost half has many said they had douched.
Brown’s team factored other considerations into the study, including age and race to avoid results being skewed by factors unrelated to vaginal products. The link remained, and while the findings are hardly conclusive, they provoke some thought.
The vagina contains ‘good’ bacteria. This serves several functions; it’s a natural cleansing system, and it guards against abnormal organisms. Petroleum jellies have alkaline properties, say researchers, which might promote growth of dangerous bacteria and yeast. Bacterial vaginosis appears to be among them.
Natural Remedies For Vaginal Dryness
Put off by the prospect of infection? Natural remedies for vaginal dryness start with lifestyle changes. Many women find the following habits make for a healthier vagina, and with more lubrication when it’s time to play.
Drink Plenty of Water – An easy place to start. Put a little h20 in your body to keep your nether-region hydrated and get the many related health benefits of drinking water.
Don’t Smoke – It’s hard to dress up smoking. Studies suggest that cigarettes attack estrogen, which your body uses to keep the vagina wet and healthy.
Try Herbal Supplements – Dong quai, fennel and fenugreek are among the more popular herbal remedies for vaginal dryness. Or try black cohosh.
Use Safe Personal Care Products – Avoid the ‘dirty dozen’ dangerous ingredients in personal care products like soap and laundry detergent. Be wary of many drugstore lubricants too – they’re among some of the worst offenders.
Eat Phytoestrogen-Rich Foods – These include soy, apples, nuts, flaxseed, alfalfa and whole grains.
Make Your Own Lubricant – These range from coconut oil to cocoa butter and even your own spit. While some women find they’re effective, it’s worth mentioning that some non-cooking oil lubricants like vaseline and baby oil can increase risk of – you guessed it – bacterial vaginosis.
Have Sex Often – Regular sex increases blood flow to the genitalia, which helps lubrication. Many women find that more sex helps keep vaginal dryness under control.
Natural Enhancement Gels
Women concerned about the dangerous ingredients in drugstore lubricants should consider natural enhancement gels. These are generally water-based products that perform the same functions as lubes like K-Y, but with natural ingredients like shea butter and aloe vera.
Most women find natural enhancement gels are an enjoyable way to address vaginal dryness and they work fast and effectively. They’re quantifiable too – just add and enjoy. Not wet enough? Add more gel. Rarely has a remedy for vaginal dryness been so much fun.
Natural enhancement gels are typically without ‘fragrance’ and other dangerous ingredients. They’re often hypo-allergic, meaning they’re ideal for women with sensitivities and rarely irritate or cause infection.
Having said this, the male enhancement industry is fraught with scams and faulty products. Female enhancement is not far behind, so care should be taken to choose a product from an established brand and a firm guarantee. Two products to consider include:
Vigorelle – A top-rated natural female lubricant to reduce vaginal dryness, Vigorelle is completely natural and highly enjoyable. You’ll love the fresh mint scent, and it comes with a 60 day moneyback guarantee.
HerSolution Gel – Seen on the hit TV show, The Doctors, HerSolution Gel is a joy to use. Like Vigorelle, it’s a water-based lube and condom-compatible. Clients tend to be very fond this product – in a recent survey, 100% of HerSolution Gel customers said they’d buy it again.