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Improve Sexual Health
- Sep 27, 2018 -

Lubricants and moisturizers are effective in relieving pain during intercourse for many midlife women. If you have more severe vaginal dryness and related pain, or if lubricants and moisturizers don’t work well for you, see your health care provider as other options are available.

How do vaginal lubricants work? Vaginal lubricants work by reducing the friction associated with thin, dry genital tissue. They come in liquid or gel form and are applied to the vagina and vulva right before intercourse (it can be helpful to apply them to the penis or any body part/instrument inserted into the vagina as well). Lubricants are absorbed into the skin, are immediate-acting, and provide temporary relief from vaginal dryness and related pain during intercourse. Lubricants are available either as water-based, silicone-based, or oil-based products. Water-based lubricants have the advantage of being non-staining and they wash off fairly easily. If you are concerned about staining your sheets, put down a large bath or beach towel on top of your sheets. Do not use oil-based lubricants (such as petroleum jelly and baby oil) because they can cause vaginal irritation. Additionally, oil-based lubricants may make condoms less effective. Some lubricants have glycerin and others are glycerin free. We recommend that you avoid glycerin, flavored lubricants, and warming/”tingling” lubricants. Silicone lubricants are often good options. For a list of lubricants that are available in drug and grocery stores, and online, see pages 4-5 of this handout.

What are vaginal moisturizers?
Vaginal moisturizers are products that are intended to ease vaginal dryness. They need to be used regularly to maintain moisture (up to three times a week). They are absorbed into the skin, increasing moisture to the affected area. Moisturizers may not provide enough comfort during intercourse, so personal lubricants may still be needed. One of the downsides of vaginal moisturizers is that they are messy. Because the vagina absorbs what it needs and excretes the rest, you may want to wear a panty-liner. For a list of moisturizers see, page 6 of this handout.

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