The walls of a vagina ordinarily stay lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid. Vaginal dryness, though, is a surprisingly common problem, and it can affect women at any age. The problem is usually linked to decreases in estrogen levels, and becomes especially prevalent among those going through menopause. Let’s take a closer look at the causes of vaginal dryness and how some vitamins and supplements can help support vaginal lubrication.
Vaginal dryness can be caused by hormonal changes, including those brought on by menopause and pregnancy. Natural lubrication is largely driven by the hormone estrogen, and as such, decreased estrogen levels can lead to dryness.
Sometimes hormonal changes can be caused by stress, dehydration, and changes in what’s known as the vaginal microbiome. The vaginal microbiome consists of mixed communities of bacteria that influence the health of the vagina. The interplay between hormones and this bacteria help maintain the regular acidic vaginal pH of between 3.5 and 4.5 in healthy mature females. Lactobacillus bacteria, in particular, has been shown to support vaginal health; disruptions in the microbiome that reduce the amount of Lactobacillus have been shown to contribute to vaginal dryness. Research also suggests that after menopause many people experience vaginal dryness and symptoms of vaginal atrophy. Sexual intercourse can have an effect on vaginal dryness, since intercourse improves blood circulation to the vagina.
Some common symptoms of vaginal dryness include:
Female lubrication is caused by hormonal activity in the body. The female sexual response cycle can be initiated by physical stimulation and arousal. The lubrication process itself comes from healthy blood circulation (since vaginal lubrication is ultrafiltrated blood) and the flow of nitric oxide. Estrogen can increase the enzyme that makes nitric oxide, and thereby promote lubrication.
Since vaginal lubrication is so reliant on blood flow, you’ll want to prioritize foods that are high in antioxidants and support healthy blood flow and blood vessels. Fruits high in antioxidants are a good option. You’ll also want to try foods rich in arginine and citrulline – amino acids that convert to nitric oxide, which is essential for blood flow. Some examples of such foods include watermelon and beets. Avocado can provide healthy nutrients and fats, while eating yogurt rich in probiotic properties can support the health of the vaginal microbiome.
Vaginal lubrication is affected by the proper – or improper – functioning of your immune system. Vitamin B complex, which comprises all eight types of vitamin B, boosts immune function, and may thereby help support lubrication. B vitamins also help support your nervous system and can help manage cortisol levels, reducing stress. This can have the added benefit of improving vaginal dryness, since stress has a negative impact on lubrication. Furthermore, vitamin B helps with estrogen metabolism. Care/of offers a B-complex vitamin as an oral supplement that’s shown to support the nervous system and promote energy metabolism.
While vitamin D is best known for its role in supporting healthy bones, research suggests that it can have benefits for female lubrication, too. Studies show that vitamin D can help maintain a healthy vaginal pH and support epithelial cells. Moreover, a review of six studies found that oral vitamin D supplements and suppositories could lead to improved vaginal dryness and improved vaginal health during menopause. Another study comprising 44 postmenopausal women found that using a vitamin D suppository daily for 8 weeks helped decrease vaginal atrophy and vaginal dryness, compared with the control group. And, lastly, a study of 200 older women found that boosted vitamin D levels in the blood were linked to improved vaginal moisture. Care/of offers a 30-day pack of easy-to-digest vitamin D.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s also an effective antioxidant. Research suggests that vitamin E could be beneficial for boosting vaginal lubrication and reducing dryness. One study found that using a vitamin E suppository for 12 weeks improved symptoms of vaginal atrophy. Moreover, some other studies have found that suppositories that include vitamin E – along with some other ingredients – could improve symptoms of vaginal atrophy. The benefits of vitamin E for vaginal lubrication is likely due to its role in maintaining estrogen levels and keeping arteries flexible, thus facilitating healthy blood flow.
Fish oil is a popular supplement that helps you boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that boasts numerous health benefits. It turns out that omega-3 fatty acids could also be beneficial for increasing female lubrication. Studies have shown that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may increase estrogen levels, the hormone largely responsible for vaginal lubrication. One study found that taking 3.5 grams omega-3 fatty acid once per day for 6 months improved self-reported vaginal dryness among older women. Moreover, omega-3 fatty acid has demonstrated benefits for blood flow, which is essential to maintaining vaginal lubrication. Further studies are needed to examine the direct relationship between fish oil and female lubrication. Care/of offers a 30-day supply of fish oil, sustainably sourced from Alaskan salmon.
As mentioned above, the bacteria Lactobacillus is linked to vaginal health. Taking probiotics can help ensure the health of the vaginal microbiome. In healthy people, Lactobacillus iners and L. crispatus are the most abundant bacteria. Care/of’s Probiotic Blend, made in Denmark, can help you make sure your vaginal microbiome has the “good bacteria” it needs to stay healthy and promote lubrication.
Sea buckthorn oil is a supplement drawn from the leaves, berries, and seeds of the buckthorn plant. Rich in fatty acids like linoleic acid, it can help strengthen the barrier of your skin and protect against water loss. One study of 116 postmenopausal women experiencing vaginal dryness showed promsing results: The study found that consuming 3 grams of sea buckthorn oil daily for three months was associated with major improvements in vaginal tissue integrity and vaginal health generally. Sea buckthorn oil also improves blood circulation, which is essential for vaginal moisture. The same study of postmenopausal women also found found that the women who used sea buckthorn oil saw improved vaginal dryness compared to the placebo group, though the difference was not considered statistically significant.
Hyaluronic acid is a molecule the body produces and is known for its role in skin health and aging. A popular cosmetic product, it’s also available as a supplement, often packaged as a gel or as a suppository. Research suggests that topical gels and suppositories containing hyaluronic acid boost vaginal lubrication – either when used alone or in concert with vitamin A and vitamin E. One study found that taking 5 mg of hyaluronic acid sodium salt for 8 weeks improved symptoms of vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women. Another study found that a hyaluronic acid derivative vaginal gel (Hydeal-D) was able to support vaginal health and sexual function.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone naturally produced by your body in the adrenal gland. DHEA is essential for the production of other hormones, including estrogen, which is necessary for vaginal lubrication and vaginal health. Studies have shown that vaginal administration of DHEA can improve lubrication and decrease dryness. DHEA has also been shown to help alleviate symptoms of vaginal atrophy.
Boron is a trace mineral and micronutrient that plays an important role in plant, animal, and human metabolism. Boron helps regulate hormones and has been shown to increase levels of estradiol and testosterone in women who were boron deficient. These hormones can both play a vital role in vaginal health.
When it comes to improving lubrication, there are options besides supplementation, too. Indeed, there are some great natural remedies available to you. Some include consuming:
You can also improve lubrication through little lifestyle tweaks that promote overall wellness. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating a nutrient-rich diet can all help your immune function and blood flow, which in turn can help vaginal health.
Experiencing vaginal dryness doesn’t typically mean you have a serious condition. But if your discomfort is persistent over a period of days or weeks, you should talk to a doctor. You should likewise talk to a doctor if you’re experiencing discomfort during intercourse. Left untreated, vaginal dryness can lead to other, more lasting problems.
Vaginal bleeding related to dryness is a major warning sign. If you notice any, seek medical attention right away. A doctor can examine the vaginal walls and test for bad bacteria. Moreover, a doctor can perform hormone tests to see if you are in perimenopause or menopause.
A doctor will sometimes prescribe an estrogen treatment for treating vaginal dryness. Estrogen therapy can come in the form of estrogen-releasing pills, creams, or rings. Seek medical advice about whether you need such a treatment.
Vaginal dryness is a rather common problem, often caused by hormonal changes. It’s especially common during menopause. The vitamins and supplements listed above can help improve vaginal dryness and increase lubrication. Be sure to talk to medical professionals before adding any new supplements to your routine, and check with them about what treatment will work best for you.