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You Are Never Too Dry to Try How Do I Know if I Need A Vaginal Moisturizer?

Dr. Machelle M. Seibel, founder of My Menopause Magazine, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Massachusetts

Sexuality continues to be an important part of a happy and healthy life.  Until very recently, medical companies have put most of their time and research into developing products and medicine that mainly address male sexual dysfunction — but it takes two to tango. If the goal is a better sex life, it should be much more egalitarian, viewing women’s needs as well as men’s.  Drugs like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra have given men options to maintain a healthy sex life as they age, provoking legitimate claims that the medical industry only treats half of the problem. The pharmaceutical advances for men have created problems for many of their partners who experience chronic vaginal dryness, making it difficult for women to respond to their partners increased expectations.

A woman can suffer from vaginal dryness at any age, but the problem is usually associated only with menopause. Why? Because at that time of life, estrogen levels drop and one of estrogen’s roles is to keep the lining of the vagina moist and healthy. I write a lot about this topic in My Menopause Magazine. (For a limited time, get a FREE Subscription (a $24 value) by going to www.FreeMenopauseHelp.com.)

In addition to menopause, vaginal dryness can also be associated with breastfeeding, or taking oral contraceptives.  It can also occur in response to douching, pelvic radiation, prolonged use of tampons, advanced endometriosis, and as a side effect of a variety of medications, including aromatase inhibitors used to treat breast cancer, such as Tamoxifen.

Excessive exercise, persistent emotional stress or past traumatic sexual experiences, diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine, cigarette smoking, certain allergy medications, and antihistamines can also exacerbate an existing condition.

If you’ve had vaginal dryness, you know how uncomfortable it can feel: irritation, itching, burning, and soreness. If left untreated, this condition can lead to atrophic vaginitis, bleeding, urinary discomfort, bladder infections, and painful intercourse. Hormone replacement therapy is one of the most commonly used treatments, particularly for menopausal women. However, hormones are not for everyone and HRT does present potential risks. An expert panel at the National Institute of Health advocates more emphasis on hormone-free options, such as a vaginal moisturizer.

As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, women suffering from feminine dryness due to menopause can alleviate symptoms by using Replens Long-Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer, instead of relying on estrogen treatments.

“In a randomized trial, a polycarbophil-based vaginal moisturizer available over the counter (Replens) provided relief of vaginal symptoms that was equivalent to that of vaginal estrogen…,” stated the article from the Nov. 30th, issue entitled “Management of Menopausal Symptoms,” by Deborah Grady, M.D., M.P.H.  “Oral phytoestrogens have not proved to be effective for the treatment of vaginal symptoms.”

Dr. Doreen Wiggins and Dr. Don Dizon reported on the effi­cacy of Replens for the treatment of vaginal atrophy and sited two studies* finding Replens to be as effective as conju­gated estrogen vaginal cream, as stated in an article for SRM, a clinical publication of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Many women opt for a good lubricant when faced with the prospect of dry, painful sex. If dryness is a challenge during intercourse, a lubricant will provide great temporary assistance, but it will do little to restore vaginal moisture and repair dry or damaged vaginal tissues. A vaginal moisturizer like Replens, can provide soothing comfort and ensure good vaginal health as it restores pH as it delivers moisture for up to 5 days. In the same way that a skin moisturizer works on the face and hands, a vaginal moisturizer bonds to the vagina’s epithelial cells in order to repair, heal, and restore the natural moisture cycle.

“This non-hormonal alternative for vaginal atrophy has been shown to decrease dyspareunia, improve vaginal dryness, and increase the maturation index when used regularly. The active ingredient is a bioadhesive poly­mer that is water swellable but not water soluble, which binds directly to the vagi­nal epithelium.” notes Dr. Wiggins and Dizon for SRM. The hydrating property replenishes the vaginal pH to premenopausal levels and reduces the incidence of vagi­nal dryness, itching and irritation.” **

All of this is good news for women when their men are taking a sexual enhancement drug and it can improve the sex lives of millions of women, at any age. Additionally, it helps prevent the health problems that can come as a result of this all-too-common malady and can help raise the quality of life by easing chronic discomfort.   Men are discovering that while the body’s processes can easily frustrate desire, that doesn’t mean they have to like it.  Neither do women, and nor should they.  You are never too dry to dry, as long as you know what you can do about it.

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Dr. Machelle M. Seibel is a leading expert in women’s health. He is founder of My Menopause Magazine available in the Apple Newsstand and on Google Play. Get a FREE Subscription at www.FreeMenopauseHelp.com.

http://www.obgmanagement.com/srm/pdf/August_2008_Archive/AugDyVa.pdf

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/355/22/2338)

*Bygdeman M, Seahn ML. Replens versus dienoestrol cream in the symptomatic treatment of vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women. Maturitas, 1996; 23:259-263.

Lorinzi CL, Abu-Ghazaleh S Sloan JA, et al. Phase III randomized double-blind study to evaluate the efficacy of a policarbophil based vaginal moisturizer in women with breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 1997; 15:969-973.

**Van der Laak JA, de Bie LM, de Leeuw H, de Wilde PC, Hanselaar AGI. The effect of Replens on Vaginal cytology in the treatment of postmenopausal atrophy; cytomorphology versus computerized cytometry. J Clin Pathol. 2002; 55:446-451.