It’s news to no one that menopause changes the sexual experience for most women. Changes in your bones, joints, and muscle composition can make positions that were once enjoyable uncomfortable, hormones are in flux, and nervous system changes can alter the way intimacy feels, smells, and tastes. Chief among the issues—and one of the most common symptoms of menopause—is dryness and discomfort caused by fluctuating and declining levels of estrogen over time. This can lead to increased sensitivity during sex (unfortunately, the unpleasurable kind). But there is good news: menopause doesn’t have to be the end of sex as we know it. There are a plethora of ways to combat the uncomfortable, unsexy feelings that come with vaginal dryness, both in the bedroom and in your everyday life.
While lubricants, moisturizers, lotions, and serums are never a bad idea, they become even more important as your body changes and can help relieve those painful menopausal side effects. Notably, every person—and every vagina—is different, and it’s hard to know what to use and when. We’re here to help. We’ve gathered useful information, so you can choose the products that best fit your needs.
Can You Use Regular Face or Body Lotion on Your Vulva?
No. Although your intimate area may need some daily TLC to help keep it hydrated, vulvar skin is very different from facial skin. The composition of the skin tissue is different, the pH is different, and how these tissues absorb products is different. It is critical for your vulvar and vaginal health to use formulations made specifically for the particular sensitivities of these tissues, and ideally, for women over the age of forty. When considering some of the over-the-counter options, it’s important to note the ingredients, avoid fragrances and irritants, and stick with products that have a doctor-approved seal or are made by a trusted brand. Two great science-backed options formulated in partnership with OB/GYNs and leading chemists are The Daily Vaginal Lotion and the V Relief Serum. Both are designed specifically to provide comfort for women experiencing peri- and postmenopause, but can be safe to use in other phases of life as well.
When to Use A Vaginal Lotion or Moisturizer
Whenever you need it! Our Daily Vaginal Lotion is intended to be used, well, daily. Designed to be pH-balanced and free of hormones and fragrances, the lotion’s science-backed formula is intended to hydrate and soothe your vulvar and vaginal skin in as few as two uses, although the benefits increase the more you use it. Two of the main ingredients are glycerin and vitamin B3 (also called niacinamide), which draw in moisture and help support skin moisture barrier healing over time. Coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, and safflower seed oil are skin-critical emollients that hydrate without disrupting your natural pH balance the way some oils do. Applied regularly to the vulva and an inch or less into the vagina, the lotion has been reported to meaningfully ease dryness and discomfort.
If your dryness is more severe, though, or accompanied by sensitivity to the touch, burning, or the urge to itch when applying products, wiping, or engaging in intimacy, Kindra’s V Relief Serum may be a better choice for you. Its gentle formula includes a clinically-studied peptide made to reduce discomfort and intimate skin sensitivity, plus hyaluronic acid and vitamin E that promote hydration and skin health. The serum is designed to mimic the body’s natural fluids to rejuvenate sensitive skin until it’s better able to tolerate a thicker moisturizer—and more physical contact.
When to Use Lubricants
Moisturizers keep you feeling healthy and nourished all day while improving the skin barrier, but in the bedroom, sometimes reinforcements are needed. Lubricants are designed to keep your vagina hydrated during intercourse—with a partner or alone—to avoid friction on vaginal tissue and make the entire experience more enjoyable. And just like a moisturizer or lotion, the ingredients matter. Doctors recommend using a hypoallergenic, physician-backed formula, like the water-based Organic Lubricant from our friends at Tabu. It can be your best friend when applied before intimacy—whether penetrative or not—and reapplied as needed throughout sex.
Made with organic aloe leaf and various extracts including white peony root and passion flower, which are anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants, Tabu’s Organic Lubricant not only hydrates and helps you feel sexy, but also aids your body in keeping vaginal tissue healthy. Its pH-balanced, FDA-cleared formula also contains hyaluronic acid, which the body naturally produces to retain water (albeit less and less with age), and allantoin, which stimulates collagen and prevents water loss through the skin. Use it by itself or as part of Tabu’s Kit, which comes with a discreet, heated, three-speed massager made from 100% waterproof, medical-grade silicone. Using a vibrator has been shown to improve natural lubrication and arousal, so really, it’s a win-win.
If at First You Don’t Succeed…
Sometimes, the remedy that will make you feel like you again comes down to trial and error. We recommend picking products and creating a routine around them. If they don’t work after a few weeks, try something new. As your body changes, so do your needs, so different products may work better for you at different times.
Currently, we don’t recommend using the lotion and the serum at the same time; Our board-certified medical advisors suggest first addressing discomfort and sensitivity (with a product like the serum), then dryness (with the lotion). Using a gentler formulation first will help vulvar and vaginal skin, particularly at the vaginal opening, feel less sensitive until the skin is able to tolerate a thicker moisturizer. Most lubricants, though, can be paired with another hydrating product.
If you don’t know where to start, take our online quiz to find the best product for your body, and when in doubt, talk to your doctor. Hydration, relief, and a healthier sex life are within reach.