My training as an OB/GYN did not completely prepare me for the world of vaginal lubricants and moisturizers. I recently came across an excellent panel discussion in OBG Management that included a colleague (Lisa Larkin, MD) and a former medical school professor of mine (Sheryl Kingsberg, PHD) outlining how vaginal lubricants and moisturizers can improve the quality of life of women of all ages suffering from vaginal dryness and irritation.
I never really fully grasped the variety of products available to women and, furthermore, many new and improved products have become available in recent years. I want to share some of the key take-home points from this article, as well as some of the suggested products.
- Vaginal/vulvar dryness, atrophy, and painful intercourse are not limited to only postmenopausal women—these symptoms can occur at any age.
- Many women use lubricants during sex and their use does not “reflect any inadequacy or dysfunction”.
- Lubricants should be used during sexual activity as opposed to moisturizers which should be used daily.
- Neither lubricants nor moisturizers will treat any underlying issues, such as vaginal atrophy, but they will help with the symptoms.
- Lubricants can be water-based, oil-based or silicone-based.
- Oil-based (“holistic”) lubricants such as olive oil, peanut oil, mineral oil, baby oil and petroleum jelly are NOT good options and may promote vaginal infections and stain clothing.
- If water-based lubricants are too sticky or require frequent reapplications, a silicone-based lubricant may work better.
Here are some of the available products:
- Water-based lubricants (Astroglide, Good Clean Love, K-Y Jelly)
- Oil-based (Coconut oil, vegetable oil, vitamin E oil)
- Silicone-based (Astroglide X, Überlube, Replens Silky Smooth)
- Note: do not use with other silicone products (like dilators, sex toys, or pessaries)
- Replens, RepHresh, Sylk Natural Intimate Moisturizer
Hybrids (combination of lubricant and moisturizer)
- Lubrigyn, Luvena
You may find you need to try a few different lubricants, moisturizers or one of the hybrids until you find the one that works for you. I often recommend the use of a silicone-based lubricant, like Überlube, because they are so slick and really cut down on the friction and discomfort during sex. However, as one panel discussant pointed out, be careful with silicone based lubricants in the shower or during “water play”. Nothing kills the mood like a trip to the ER after you or your partner slip and fall during a moment of intimacy.
1. Krychman, M.D., A; Kingsberg, S; Larkin, L., The Role of Moisturizers and Lubricants in Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause and Beyond. OBG Management, 2017(April): p. SS1-SS10.