One of the most nagging menopause symptoms (and probably the least talked about) is vaginal dryness, which leads to painful, unenjoyable sex – and nobody has time for that. So we talked to psychologist and certified sex therapist, Dr. Shannon Chavez, for her best tips and product recommendations to get things between the sheets going smoothly (literally).
First things first: See your doctor to rule out a medical condition. And FYI, some antihistamines and antidepressants can affect dryness down there.
And now for your sexual self-care routine...
Lube is your best friend.
But not just any lube. Some can be drying from the chemicals. Stay away from glycerin, which can irritate and cause yeast development, imbalancing vaginal flora. You want natural ingredients. Say yes to hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and jojoba oil. Say no to flavors, scents, and anything you can’t pronounce (we’re talking to you, phthalates).
Pro tip: Always test any lube on your hand first. Trust, if you have a reaction, you want it to be on your hand, not your vagina.
Dr. Shannon’s Favorites
Water-based lubes are thin and absorb into the skin, which means you often have to reapply. But they are totally safe to use with condoms and silicone sex toys.
- Good Clean Love’s Ultra-Sensitive is a water-based formula that moisturizes and replenishes tissue (it’s atrophy in that area that causes the pain). Added bonus, it’s female-owned.
- Pjur Med Sensitive Glide is an uber-gentle formula, making it a good option for those experiencing the most sensitivity down there.
Oil-based are more moisturizing than water-based because they absorb into the tissue, but they’re not always safe with latex products, so don’t use them if you’re using condoms.
- Foria Wellness Intimate Suppositories are oil-based and contain CBD, which helps reduce discomfort from inflammation or dryness, relaxing nerve endings in the area. Plus, suppositories melt and absorb deep in the canal for extra relief.
Silicone-based stays on the surface of the skin, acting like a barrier to the tissue, which is great for friction. Silicone-based lubes are safe to use with latex/condoms but should not be used with silicone sex toys.
- K-Y True Feel is non-irritating and safe to use with condoms. With a natural feel and long-lasting formula, it’s easy to use and includes a high-quality silicone.
And when to use it? Also totally a personal preference, but if you experience dryness all the time, use it daily. If it’s just with sexual activity, incorporate it into your ritual during foreplay.
Foreplay is key.
It takes a woman’s body a minimum of 20 minutes before it’s fully aroused and ready for orgasm. (That’s a fact – don’t be afraid to use it!) Think of foreplay as the transitional period of getting into a sexual space with your partner. That can be anything from a hot bath to moody music to dancing to touching – the key is to relax (which helps minimize discomfort).
Get in a committed relationship with your vibrator.
Think of this as a massage that gets the blood flowing and the nerve endings firing. It also creates a stronger arousal response, giving you more awareness around what feels good and what doesn’t and can help you figure out where the pain is coming from. If done over time (3-4 times a week), priming can replenish tissue, which is what’s causing the discomfort in the first place. Some women even see improvement within a week or two.
We’re big fans of Goop’s Double-Sided Wand (GP clearly did her homework on this one), Tabu’s Personal Massager, and anything by Dame.