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Vaginal dryness alternative treatments

Alternative Names

Alternative treatments for vaginal dryness

Information

Question:

Is there a drug-free treatment for vaginal dryness?

Answer:

Because there are many causes of vaginal dryness, there are many potential treatments. Before self treating, you should be sure your vaginal dryness is not caused by an infection, foreign body, or tumor (a rare cause of vaginal dryness).

A very common cause of vaginal dryness is lack of the hormone, estrogen. (See: atrophic vaginitis) Applying a vaginal estrogen-based cream can help relieve this dryness. Water-based lubricants also are effective for relieving vaginal dryness. Lubricants will moisten the vaginal lining for several hours, and the effect of a vaginal cream can last for up to a day.

Soybeans contain plant-based substances called isoflavones that weakly mimic the action of estrogen. A diet rich in soy foods would therefore be expected to improve symptoms of vaginal dryness. Research studies on isoflavones are ongoing, but so far the ideal sources or dose is still unknown. Soy foods include tofu, soy milk, and whole soybeans (also called edamame).

Many women claim that creams containing wild yam relieve their symptoms of vaginal dryness. However, no well-designed research has evaluated these creams, and extracts of wild yam have not been found to have estrogen- or progesterone-like activities. Some of the products may have synthetic medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) added. MPA is a derivative of progesterone, and is also used in oral contraceptives. Like all supplements, MPA-containing products should be used with caution.

Black cohosh is an herb sold as a dietary supplement for the relief of menopausal symptoms. There is no clear evidence that this herb relieves vaginal dryness.

References

Reed SD, Newton KM, LaCroix AZ, Grothaus LC, Grieco VS, Ehrlich K. Vaginal endometrial, and reproductive hormone findings: randomized, placebo-controlled trial of black cohosh, multibotanical herbs, and dietary soy for vasomotor symptoms: the Herbal Alternatives for Menopause (HALT) Study. Menopause. 2008;15(1):51-58.


Review Date: 12/7/2009
Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine.
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