Vaginal dryness can affect women of any age, but most typically occurs during and after menopause. Although vaginal dryness is generally a benign condition, it can negatively affect your quality of life. The application of vitamin E to the vagina may help to restore lubrication. While women’s health experts and clinical studies acknowledge the safety and efficacy of vitamin E for vaginal dryness, always consult your physician before pursuing home therapies.
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Vaginal dryness describes a condition in which you experience a significant decrease in vaginal lubrication due to medications, lifestyle or hormonal factors. Vaginal dryness can cause itching, swelling and discomfort, and is associated with pain during penetrative intercourse and increased frequency of urination. Although vaginal dryness can indicate a lack of sexual arousal, the condition can also impede your ability to become sexually stimulated.
Hormonal changes during menopause and pregnancy are the most common causes of vaginal dryness. The hormone estrogen helps to keep the walls of your vagina elastic and lubricated. During menopause, as estrogen levels decline, the vaginal walls grow thin and lose a substantial amount of their natural moisture, a process known as vaginal atrophy. Childbirth and breastfeeding also affect estrogen levels and might temporarily reduce lubrication and make the vaginal walls more fragile. Additionally, cigarette smoking directly causes estrogen levels to fall and can contribute to vaginal dryness.
Vitamin E for Vaginal Dryness
The strong moisturizing properties of vitamin E might help to relieve symptoms of vaginal dryness. A fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E helps to protect your body from environmental free radicals and maintain the immune system. Vitamin E is a common component of commercial moisturizers because of its effectiveness in helping to repair damaged skin cells and in promoting skin cell moisture.
The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation suggests applying the oil from vitamin E supplements to the inside of your vagina for one to two weeks to relieve dryness. A November 2008 article in the “European Review of Medical and Pharmacological Sciences” considered the efficacy of vaginal suppositories in managing vaginal atrophy. The authors assessed the effects of intravaginal vitamin E, in addition to other suppositories, as compared to local estrogen replacement therapy. The results of their study demonstrated that natural suppositories of vitamin E produced no adverse side effects, significantly improved symptoms of vaginal atrophy and increased vaginal moisture.
Most women experience vaginal dryness at some point. The experts at the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation estimate that 20 percent of menopausal and post-menopausal women experience vaginal atrophy. While vitamin E might help to increase vaginal lubrication, severe cases of vaginal dryness might respond better to other forms of therapy. If you experience persistent vaginal dryness, talk to your doctor to discuss ways of managing your symptoms.
- National Institutes of Health: Medline Plus: Vaginal Dryness
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation: Vaginal Dryness
- European Reviews of Medical and Pharmacological Science: Effectiveness and Safety of Vaginal Suppositories for the Treatment of the Vaginal Atrophy in Postmenopausal Women