Natural Remedies for Vaginal Dryness

Although vaginal dryness is most common among women after menopause, when estrogen levels decline, the condition can affect women of any age. Often accompanied by itching and/or a burning sensation, vaginal dryness can contribute to pain during sex or an increase in urinary frequency.

Black cohosh plant growing outdoors close up
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So far, scientific support for the claim that any natural remedy can help with vaginal dryness is limited. Here's a look at several substances often touted as natural remedies for this condition:

Wild Yam Cream

Applied topically to the skin, creams made with wild yam are often marketed as a natural source of estrogen. However, there's no evidence that wild yam can increase estrogen levels or have any effect on vaginal dryness.

Black Cohosh

Similarly, there's no scientific support for the claim that dietary supplements containing the herb black cohosh can help relieve vaginal dryness.

Kudzu

In a study of 71 healthy postmenopausal women, researchers found taking the herb kudzu in capsule form daily for 24 weeks helped alleviate vaginal dryness and restore the health of the participants' vaginal tissue, but not when compared with placebo.

Soy

Containing estrogen-like substances called "isoflavones," soy is thought to help improve symptoms of vaginal dryness. Although researchers are looking into the vaginal-health effects of a diet rich in soy foods (such as tofu), the ideal source and dose of soy are currently unknown.

Causes of Vaginal Dryness

In most cases, vaginal dryness is the result of a decrease in estrogen levels. As you age, a fall in estrogen levels can reduce the amount of moisture lining your vaginal walls. Age-related hormonal changes can also alter the consistency of this moisture.

For some women, hormonal changes resulting from pregnancy or while breastfeeding can also lead to a decrease in vaginal lubrication. Estrogen levels may also drop due to:

  • Use of chemotherapy, and/or hormone therapy in the treatment of cancer
  • Radiation therapy to the pelvic area
  • Immune disorders
  • Surgical removal of the ovaries/hysterectomy

In other cases, vaginal dryness may result from​ the use of medications that reduce moisture levels throughout the body (such as allergy and cold medicines). The vagina can also become irritated from douching, laundry detergents, and soaps. Cigarette smoking, tampons, and condoms may also cause vaginal dryness.

Using Natural Remedies

Since vaginal dryness can sometimes signal an underlying health problem (such as infection), it's important to consult your physician if you experience any symptoms of this condition. Standard treatments include the use of vaginal estrogen-based creams, as well as vaginal moisturizers and water-based lubricants. It's important to consult your physician before attempting to self-treat this condition with alternative medicine.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will drinking more water help with vaginal dryness?

    It's possible—if you're truly dehydrated. You also can counter dehydration by drinking other non-alcoholic, unsweetened fluids and increasing your intake of juicy fruits, vegetables, and even soup.

  • Are there any foods that can prevent or treat vaginal dryness?

    Not for certain, but there's been intriguing research in this area, based largely on how women who consume certain foods respond to questionnaires such as the Female Sexual Function Index, which includes several questions about lubrication. Among those foods are apples, red wine, and soy.

  • What are some natural lubricants I can use during sex?

    Certain vegetable oils are effective lubricants, including avocado, coconut, peanut, and olive oils. However, if you're using latex condoms to prevent pregnancy or infection, these oils will cause them to degrade and be less effective.

  • Are there any herbs that can help relieve vaginal dryness?

    Non-Western medicine practices such as traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda do use certain herbs and other plants to support vaginal health, including to increase lubrication. They include Shatavari root, Chinese asparagus, licorice root, calendula, and comfrey.

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Article Sources
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Additional Reading
  • Reed SD, Newton KM, LaCroix AZ, Grothaus LC, Grieco VS, Ehrlich K. "Vaginal endometrial, and reproductive hormone findings: randomized, placebo-controlled trial of black cohosh, multibotanical herbs, and dietary soy for vasomotor symptoms: the Herbal Alternatives for Menopause (HALT) Study." Menopause. 2008 15(1):51-8.