Dryness in the Nether Regions
Lyle Sunada, B.Sc.(Pharm), Compounding Pharmacist
Vaginal dryness. Not a topic commonly discussed around the dinner table but nonetheless a very common problem for women as they age. In fact, it’s estimated that after menopause up to 85% of women suffer from vaginal dryness but only 20-25% seek help. Vaginal atrophy can cause dryness, burning, itching, pain when urinating, painful intercourse, and decreased sex drive and libido. Menopause and the decreased levels of estrogen can also result in an increase in the vaginal pH resulting in an increased risk of bladder infections and incontinence.
Traditionally, non-prescription solutions are to use personal lubricants or vaginal moisturizers like Replens gel. Personal lubricants don’t have very long lasting effects and studies on the use of Replens have been less than ideal. The feedback that I hear from my patients using Replens has been unexceptional and some are concerned about the preservatives (methylparabens) and hydrogenated palm oil. One of the better natural personal lubricants that can be used before intercourse is LOVE ™ by Lorna Vanderhaege. It is water-based, non-staining and does not contain parabens, toxic preservatives, or animal products and may help to restore normal vaginal balance to inhibit harmful vaginal bacteria growth. If you are trying to get pregnant and need a personal lubricant consider Pre-Seed as many personal lubricants are toxic to sperm.
Fortunately, a brand new natural vaginal moisturizer has just been released in Canada called MAE by Damiva. It contains all natural ingredients including hyaluronic acid, Vitamin E, cocoa butter, and sea buckthorn. Mae is formulated at the optimal vaginal pH of 3.7 and is inserted as a non-messy ovule (vs. a gel) that will dissolve at body temperature for instant absorption. Mae should not be used together with latex condoms. Mae by Damiva was recently featured on DRAGON’S DEN and was picked up by one of the dragons.
If non-prescription products are not helping then you may need to consider vaginal estrogen therapy. Some women require direct local contact with estrogen to stimulate vaginal tissue growth. I generally recommend a low dose bio-identical estriol vaginal cream. Estriol is a human estrogen and is considered by many to be the safest estrogen especially in terms of cancer. Estriol-containing vaginal products have been used for decades in Europe and Japan but not in North America. Numerous studies show great results for helping vaginal dryness/atrophy, incontinence, and recurrent bladder infections. Because it is not commercially available it must be custom made by a compounding pharmacy. Most physicians are unfamiliar with estriol so talk to a COMPOUNDING PHARMACIST for information to give to your doctor or learn more by attending my upcoming SEMINAR on bio-identical hormones and hormone balancing.
It’s time to start talking about this sensitive topic as many women are suffering needlessly and are too embarrassed to talk to their doctors, pharmacists, or husbands. It’s time to get help and as stated on the Mae box, “Get ready to feel like a teenager again, but with better judgment.”
Lyle Sunada is a compounding pharmacist at Pharmasave Downtown Cloverdale. He has been specializing in hormonal issues for 20 years. He would love to hear from you! Contact him HERE.