Maybe you hear the words “vaginal moisturizer” and you think “oh, that’s a sex thing,” but it’s actually not. Vaginal moisturizers and personal lubricants are different products created for different purposes, and though the former may help make sex less painful for women experiencing vaginal dryness and atrophy, the two products are not intended to be interchangeable.
What Is a Vaginal Moisturizer?
Exactly as the skin on your face changes with health and age, so goes the skin on your most intimate parts. Whether chronic vaginal dryness is brought about by the natural hormonal changes of menopause, the unnatural hormonal changes of cancer treatment, or an autoimmune illness such as Sjogren’s, it’s no fun. If your face felt tight and itchy, you’d get a good moisturizer and apply it as often as you needed to return your skin to a calm and supple state — and that’s just what an intimate skin moisturizer does. Only it does it for your vagina. Applied externally, it helps reduce itching, burning, and irritation.
Some vaginal moisturizers require a doctor’s prescription. Others can be purchased without. They come in liquids, creams, and gels. Many contain hormones, which are not suitable for all women.
Satisfem vaginal moisturizer does not contain hormones. Instead, it’s made with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E. Hyaluronic acid is a substance your body makes naturally, though it tends to make less as you age. Because it attracts water, it’s naturally hydrating and plumping, which is why it’s become a darling in the beauty world. It makes a great facial — and vaginal — moisturizer. And vitamin E has long been used to nourish and protect skin. It’s a powerful antioxidant that isn’t trendy, just effective in reducing irritation and strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier.
What Is a Personal Lubricant?
Lubricants are intended for use at the time of sexual activity. They may be water based, oil based, or silicone based. Some taste like fruit. Others have a warming or cooling effect. Regardless of ingredients, they function to reduce friction between two body parts or a body part and a sex toy.
A lubricant can reduce the pain associated with vaginal dryness and atrophy during sex, but it won’t do anything to create long-lasting relief from the problems associated with the hormonal changes of menopause or an illness with the side effect of dryness.
When to Use What
If you experience vaginal discomfort specifically during sex, try a lubricant. Many women find that it helps.
If you experience vaginal discomfort — including tightness, dryness, burning, itching, and inflammation — when you’re just going about your daily activities, you’re among the 20 percent of women (or 50 to 60 percent of postmenopausal women) who do. A moisturizer may relieve all those symptoms and be beneficial for painful sex, since it addresses the underlying atrophy.
Women who use a moisturizer can find that mild symptoms clear up quickly, leaving them with only an occasional need to moisturize. Chronic symptoms can respond to daily use over time, and you may wonder how — and why — you ever lived without the latest tool in your wellness arsenal.
To learn more, read 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Embarrassed About Vaginal Dryness.