Is there a drug-free treatment for vaginal dryness?
There are many causes of vaginal dryness. It may be caused by reduced estrogen level, infection, medicines, and other things. Before treating yourself, talk to your health care provider.
Water-based lubricants and vaginal moisturizers work very well. Lubricants will moisten the vaginal opening and lining for several hours. The effects of a vaginal cream can last for up to a day.
Soybeans contain plant-based substances called isoflavones. These substances have an effect on the body that is similar to estrogen, but weaker. Therefore, it seems that a diet rich in soy foods may improve symptoms of vaginal dryness. There continues to be research in this area. The ideal sources or dose is still unknown. Soy foods include tofu, soy milk, and whole soybeans (also called edamame).
Some women claim that creams containing wild yam help with vaginal dryness. However, there is no good research supporting this claim. Also, 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.
Some women use black cohosh as a dietary supplement to relieve menopausal symptoms. However, it is not known if this herb helps with vaginal dryness.
Alternative treatments for vaginal dryness
Leach MJ, Moore V. Black cohosh (Cimicifuga spp.) for menopausal symptoms. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(9):CD007244. PMID: 22972105 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22972105.
Mackay DD. Soy isoflavones and other constituents. In: Pizzorno JE, Murray MT, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 4th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2013:chap 124.
Wilhite M. Vaginal dryness. In: Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 59.
Review Date 9/28/2017
Updated by: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.