Vaginal dryness can be caused by various things, including cancer treatments and autoimmune disease. However, it tends to occur during the menopause and is referred to as vaginal atrophy. Vaginal atrophy is the result of decreased estrogen levels and describes the thinning of the vaginal wall. Vaginal dryness is pretty uncomfortable and usually includes symptoms such as pain during sex, itching, and irritation. The good news is that there are herbs for vaginal dryness that can effectively keep symptoms at bay.
If you’ve been looking for natural menopause remedies, one of the things that you would have come across in your research is black cohosh. Black cohosh is a herb native to North America. It has been used medicinally for centuries by Native Americans and then the Europeans for a range of gynecological conditions, like menstrual cramps. Today, black cohosh is promoted as an alternative treatment for the menopause and some studies suggest that it is pretty effective treatment. Additionally, there is a ton of anecdotal evidence of women using black cohosh as a successful remedy for menopausal symptoms, like vaginal dryness. Though there is no certain answer as to how black cohosh works, an article on Mercola states that a ‘1985 pharmacological study conducted in Germany reported that black cohosh contained an isoflavone, a type of phytoestrogen, or plant estrogen.’ And as the symptoms of menopause are a result of decreased estrogen, it would make sense that taking a supplement that mimics the effects of estrogen would help to reduce symptoms, including vaginal dryness. Black cohosh is usually taken as a supplement, but there are creams that you can get too.
Motherwort is a herb that is part of the mint family. Originally native to south-eastern Europe and Central Asia, Motherwort is making its way around the globe as a powerful natural remedy for women’s health conditions. Some women even use it to stimulate their periods. In relation to vaginal dryness, it is said to increase the elasticity of the vaginal walls by encouraging circulation. It is good for other menopausal symptoms too, including hot flushes and anxiety.
Comfrey is a herb native to Europe that is part of the Boraginaceae family. Comfrey has long been used as an herbal remedy for conditions such as diarrhea, ulcers, menstruation and more. However, many countries have banned the use of comfrey as an oral treatment due to its toxicity, though, due to its powerful skin-healing properties, it is still sold as a topical treatment. Comfrey can be helpful against vaginal dryness as it is a rich source of allantoin, a natural substance that spurs new skin cell generation. It also contains properties that coat the vaginal wall and significantly decrease dryness. The University of Maryland Medical Centre advises that comfrey is never applied to broken skin. They also recommend that only small amounts are used for no longer than 10 days at a time and not for more than 4-6 total weeks in one calendar year.
Licorice comes from the root of the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant. Licorice tends to be used for its distinct flavor and can often be found in candy and other food products. Licorice root is very popular in traditional Chinese medicine as it has anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial properties. It is used to treat a range of conditions. Licorice root is very good for vaginal dryness as it is an emollient that can soothe and soften your skin. It is also a demulcent, which can help with vaginal dryness as it cells produce mucus. When looking for licorice root it is probably better to go for deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, an acid that gives it its sweet flavor and some of it health properties. However, as good as it is for your health, it can cause some serious side-effects whereas DGL can help with vaginal dryness but without the risk.
Flaxseed, also known as linseed, is continuously growing in popularity due to its rich nutritional value. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is something that we all should be eating more of as they are essential for your health. Experts suggest that they can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower inflammation, help with depression and more. Flaxseed can help with vaginal dryness as they are a rich source of lignans. Lignans are phytoestrogens, which are plant-based compounds that when consumed work like estrogen. This is good for menopausal women as a lack of estrogen in your body is what is responsible the symptoms like vaginal dryness. Furthermore, the omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce inflammation and lubricate vaginal walls. Although there are opposing views on the effectiveness of flaxseed for vaginal dryness, it is super healthy so it is worth giving a try. Ground flaxseed is better than flaxseed oil. Susan Weed on sunsanweed.com suggests that 2-3 tablespoons/ 30 – 40 mg should be sufficient; results should be seen in a few weeks.
Slippery elm is a tree that is native to North America; it was used medicinally by Native Americans for skin ailments. It has also been taken orally for digestive complaints and to relieve sore throats and coughs. Like licorice root, slippery elm is a demulcent. Slippery elm powder is a popular remedy because, when mixed with water, it forms a gel-like substance that can be used to hydrate and heal mucosal tissue. I guess you could call it a natural lubricant, which you can make and spread inside the vagina. Other herbs for vaginal dryness that may be effective include:
- dong quai
- chasteberry, also known as vitex
- evening primrose oil
- wild yam
It is really important to note here that herbs that contain phytoestrogens should be avoided if you are suffering from breast cancer.
- Don’t be shy about visiting your doctor
- Avoid perfumed soap
- As part of any vaginal dryness treatment, you should ensure that you are drinking enough water (recommended 8 glasses a day)
- Cut down or stop smoking as smoking can reduce estrogen levels in your body
- If sex is painful, be sure to use lubrication as this will really ease any discomfort
- Stop douching, as this can cause vaginal dryness as well as lead to infections
- Crack open a vitamin e pill and use the oil for lubrication
It can be extremely difficult living with vaginal dryness. If you are suffering from vaginal dryness caused by the menopause, it’s probably better to try an herbal approach first, especially since hormone replacement treatments have been linked to a whole range of side effects. These herbs for vaginal dryness have been studied and recommended as a natural solution for dryness and some are even good for other symptoms associated with the menopause too.