What causes vaginal dryness and what does it feel like

Vaginal moisturiser: How to treat vaginal dryness with the best vaginal moisturisers in the UK

9th March 2024 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber

Here’s everything you need to know about vaginal dryness from what causes it to how to treat it and the best vaginal moisturisers to restore the balance

Vaginal dryness is just one of the *many* afflictions women can experience, either as we go through pregnancy, menopause, stress or anything else that sends our hormones into overdrive.

It’s particularly common as we get older and in addition to just being uncomfortable, it can lead to infections, bleeding, itching, and pain during sex.

This is where vaginal moisturisers come in.

While it may seem like just another way for skincare companies to get your hard-earned cash, having spoken to multiple women about the problem, all of them have praised vaginal moisturisers and lubes for helping relieve their discomfort and getting them back on track, intimately.

With this in mind, we wanted to round up some of the best vaginal moisturisers that have been tried and tested by mamabella readers. Each one is specifically designed to be gentle enough to be used in intimate areas.

Before we get started, we should explain that people often use the term, ‘vagina’ when they’re technically referring to a ‘vulva.’

In short, the term vagina refers to your internal female organs – the muscly tube that leads from your external genitals to your cervix. Your vulva refers to your external genitals, often colloquially referred to as ‘flaps’ or similar.

When it comes to vaginal moisturisers, they’re designed to be used internally so in this instance they are for the vagina, not the vulva. It doesn’t mean they can’t be used externally, or they can’t relieve dryness around your vulva, but they’re just formulated to be most effective inside.

FURTHER READING: The best intimate products for all your period and feminine hygiene needs

What causes vaginal dryness?

There are several causes of vaginal dryness, meaning there are various needs for vaginal moisturiser.

The vagina is lined with mucous membranes that produce moisture to keep the tissue healthy, flexible, and comfortable. Anything that disrupts these natural moisture levels can cause vaginal dryness and the main culprits are:

  • Menopause: As if getting older wasn’t hard enough, as soon as we hit menopause, our body and moods go wild and one of the most common reasons for vaginal dryness is menopause. As oestrogen levels drop during and after menopause, many women experience a decrease in vaginal moisture, leading to dryness, itching, and discomfort. This includes surgical menopause when your ovaries are surgically removed for health reasons.
  • Breastfeeding and childbirth: Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, during childbirth, and breastfeeding can also lead to decreased oestrogen levels, contributing to vaginal dryness.
  • Cancer treatments: Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormonal cancer therapy can affect oestrogen levels and lead to vaginal dryness.
  • Medications: Certain medications, including some antidepressants, antihistamines, and contraceptives, can reduce moisture levels in the vagina.
  • Autoimmune disorders: Conditions such as Sjögren’s syndrome can affect the body’s ability to produce moisture and sebum by interfering with the relevant glands, including those in the vagina.
  • Harsh soaps: The use of harsh soaps and other personal care products can strip the vagina of its natural oils and moisture. In fact, the vagina is a self-cleaning organ, so manually cleaning it, especially with products that contain too many chemicals, can disrupt this natural balance.
  • Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can affect overall hydration, including vaginal moisture.
  • Stress: Chronic stress can impact hormone levels and, consequently, vaginal moisture.

What does vaginal dryness feel like?

What does vaginal dryness feel like?Shutterstock

It’s not always immediately obvious when you’re experiencing vaginal dryness. Unless you’re having sex regularly or you keep getting UTIs, you may not even notice.

Or you may feel some discomfort but assume it’s just the time of the month etc.

The main thing is to trust yourself and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it.

That doesn’t mean you need to jump straight into vaginal moisturisers but if you’re itching more than normal; there’s a burning sensation when you wee; if sex is painful, uncomfortable, or causes spotting or bleeding; and if your genitals just feel generally sore and tender, it’s worth doing something about it.

We recommend speaking to your doctor or a private gynaecologist to determine the causes of vaginal dryness first, upping your water intake to rule at least dehydration out and trying to reduce what chemicals you’re using in and around your vagina.

How to treat vaginal dryness

Knowing how to treat vaginal dryness does depend on what is causing your vaginal dryness. However, there are some general tips that can help relieve the symptoms if not cure vaginal dryness completely.

  • Over-the-counter lubricants and vaginal moisturisers: These are great for quick relief of dryness and discomfort, especially if you’re about to have sex. We explain more about these in our best vaginal moisturiser section below.
  • Prescription treatments: Depending on the underlying cause, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or topical oestrogen treatments may be prescribed to help restore moisture and health to vaginal tissues. This is where speaking to your doctor is important.
  • Lifestyle changes: Staying hydrated and swapping harsh soaps for gentle, unscented intimate care products can help minimise irritation and promote moisture.
  • Pelvic floor exercises: This can help improve blood flow to the vaginal area, potentially increasing natural lubrication.

Vaginal moisturisers: What to look for

When looking for a vaginal moisturiser, check for the following:

  • Ingredients: Look for products with ingredients that reduce the risk of irritation and avoid common irritants like fragrances or harsh chemicals.
  • pH Balance: The ideal vaginal moisturiser should have a pH that is compatible with the natural vaginal environment, typically around pH 4-4.5.
  • Hydration: Choose vaginal moisturisers that give long-lasting hydration without the need for frequent reapplication. Water-based formulas are often best because of their compatibility with the natural environment in the vagina.
  • Ease of use: You can buy vaginal moisturisers with applicators, or creams you apply manually. Doing what you’re comfortable with will increase your chances of being consistent with the application.

Best vaginal moisturisers

Yes Vaginal Moisturiser: Best vaginal moisturisersYes

Unlike lubricants, which are meant for short-term use to help make sex more comfortable or give instant relief to dryness, vaginal moisturisers are designed for regular use to maintain vaginal moisture and intimate health.

Each of these has been tried and tested so we feel comfortable recommending them.

Yes VM (Vaginal Moisturiser)

£11.99 | BUY NOW

The Yes VM has a water-based formula that is free from parabens, and hormones, making it suitable for daily use. It is designed to match the typical vaginal pH and is a good natural vaginal moisturiser.

Replens Long-Lasting Vaginal Moisturiser

£10.99 | BUY NOW

This vaginal moisturiser from Replens is a bestseller. It offers up to three days of moisture per application, is oestrogen-free and works by delivering moisture directly to the vaginal tissue to relieve dryness and irritation.

Boots Vaginal Moisturiser Gel

£10.99 | BUY NOW

Boots Pharmaceuticals Vaginal Moisturising Gel is a colourless gel that contains an ingredient called Hydeal-D, which is a form of hyaluronic acid. It’s a natural vaginal moisturiser that sticks to the lining of the vagina to help maintain moisture levels for three days and help the skin repair.

Vaginal lubricant

Water-based lube can work wonders for vaginal dryness experienced at any stage of your life, particularly during menopause.

The YESYES Company water-based lubeThe YESYES Company

mamabella recommends: YES WB Lube

As a pH-balanced, water-based lube, the YES WB Lube from The YES YES company is a fantastic and gentle way to increase dryness, or for use during sex or masturbation. This product is organic and contains Aloe Vera to keep things calm and less irritated.

You can also buy an oil-based version, and one formulated specifically for anal.

Price: £11.99

Where to buy: The YES YES Company

We’ve also rounded up what we consider to be the best lube options over on our sister site, MBman.

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