Just because your body is changing, doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to still have amazing sex—meaning the best lubricants for menopause dryness can come in handy for your next solo or partnered session.
Oftentimes, when people experience vaginal dryness, it can be more difficult to have sex that actually feels good—and this is due to a number of reasons. Mainly? Our bodies change as we get older. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Erum Ilyas of Montgomery Dermatology, tells Glamour, “Menopause associated vaginal dryness is a result of decreased estrogen. This leads to the thinning of the vaginal mucosa, decreased elasticity, and changes in the bio flora.” These changes can make sex feel more rough, more uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful.
This isn’t uncommon, either. According to Dr. Ilyas, studies have shown that the “majority of postmenopausal women deal with vaginal dryness associated with menopause.” Unfortunately, less than 25 percent of those individuals find solutions, he says. There are multiple reasons why, but a big one is that women simply don’t talk about it, assuming there’s nothing that can be done.
That’s a big menopause myth—there are many options for dealing with vaginal dryness. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone has a unique experience with menopause, so what works for some may not work for others. But there are several different types of lubricants that have shown to be helpful with menopausal dryness. It may just take some experimenting to find out which ones work best with your body—what worked for you when you were younger, may not be the most optimal now. Here’s what you need to know about the types of lubricants available and our picks for the best brands on the market to help with vaginal dryness.
Water-based lubricants are a safe option to use during partnered sex and self-pleasuring, says triple-board certified ob-gyn Dr. Anna Cabeca.
Pros: Water-based lubes are easy to use and easy to wash off. They’re also easily available over-the-counter, and they’re compatible with latex condoms (as in, they won’t cause the latex to deteriorate).
Cons: For some, water-based lube can cause irritation (especially if they contain glycerin and parabens). This lube can also dry up quicker than others, which means you’ll have to apply more frequently.
Many oil-based lubes include vegetable and nut oils (like coconut and almond oil); others include baby oil and petroleum jelly.
Pros: Nut-based oils are generally the most natural, they typically cause the least amount of irritation, and they work better in water. They’re also available almost everywhere (think grocery stores and drugstores).
Cons: Although oil-based lubricants usually don’t contain preservatives found in other lubes, they can actually increase the risk of bacterial infection if you don’t wash it off properly, Dr. Cabeca says. It’s best to stay away from baby oil and petroleum jelly, since they can increase the risk of a urinary tract infection. Oil-based lubes are also not compatible with latex condoms, as they contribute to their deterioration.
“Think of silicone-based lubricants as a middle ground between water-based and oil-based lubes,” Dr. Cabeca says.
Pros: Silicone-based lubes typically last longer than water-based lubes, they’re safe to use with latex condoms, and they’re H2O-friendly.
Cons: Silicone lube can be harder to rinse off, which can cause vaginal irritation. Silicone-based lubes also shouldn’t be paired with silicone sex toys, as they can cause the material in the toys to break down.
Natural lubes are usually what Dr. Cabeca recommends patients. Many natural lubricants include ingredients such as aloe vera, flaxseed, and chia extract, but it depends on the brand. The main takeaway with natural lubes is that they don’t contain additional chemicals like glycerin and parabens, which can be irritating.
Carol Queen, staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, also advises people with vaginal dryness to try going natural first. “I’d strongly recommend natural ingredients, keeping an eye out for botanicals that might irritate (to be clear, botanical ingredients are often fabulous, but just as one person can be sensitive to a food ingredient while the next isn’t, lube ingredients can be the same),” she says.
Pros: They’re generally safe, have no added icky chemicals, and you can even make your own at home if you want.
Cons: Some natural lubes can dry up faster, so you’ll have to reapply more. Some ingredients may be irritating, depending on individuals. Depending on the natural lube, you might not be able to use it with a condom (make sure to read the label).
There are some ingredients to stay away from if you have menopausal vaginal dryness: Dr. Cabeca says to avoid anything with the aforementioned glycerin and parabens, as well as nonoxynol-9 (this kills off good bacteria found in the vagina), propylene glycol, benzocaine, and chlorhexidine gluconate.
At the end of the day, lube is a great addition to your sex life, no matter how old you are or how frequently you’re dealing with dryness. Finding that you need lube to feel good is nothing to feel bad about, says Mia Sabat, a sex therapist at Emjoy. “Lubricant can benefit people of all stages of life, and for those experiencing menopausal dryness, lube can truly be your best friend during intimacy. It’s important to understand that vaginal dryness is nothing to be ashamed of,” Sabat says. With that, browse seven of the best lubricants for menopause dryness ahead.
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