Why? Because, all women will experience some of these normal age- and hormone-related changes at some point in their lives:
· vaginal dryness
· increased pain during vaginal intercourse
· more frequent urinary and vaginal infections
The good news is that learning more about lubricants and incorporating them into your sex life can help make sex feel good again for many women. Have fun and experiment to find the lubricant that works best for you and your partner. Communicate with your partner that using a lubricant does not mean that you are not turned on- you are just looking for ways to keep your sex life new and exciting. Many medications and smoking can also cause vaginal dryness. And don’t forget, using a lube for masturbation may increase your own pleasure as well.
Not all Lubes Work the Same.
There are countless lubricants available in many formulations:
· hybrid combining silicone and water)
Water-based lubricants do not disrupt the pH of your vaginal (for vaginal intercourse), do not stain sheets and wash off easily. Oil-based and silicone-based lubricants are longer-lasting and work better if you are having any kind of anal intercourse or play. Silicone-based lubricants are hypoallergenic and therefore less likely to cause any kind of irritation. Oil-and silicone-based lubricants are ideal for shower sex as well.
Use With Caution.
Lubricants that are warming, scented, flavored or that contain the following ingredients can sometimes be more irritating to already sensitive vaginal or genital skin areas.
· Glycerin (may promote vaginal yeast infections)
· nonoxynol-9 (spermicide)
· propylene glycol
· chlorhexidine gluconate
Oil-based lubricants (including coconut oil) break down the latex in condoms so should not be used with latex condoms. In general lubricants increase the effectiveness of condoms because they reduce condom breakage. Silicone lubricants will also breakdown silicone sex toys such as dildos or vibrators, so if you are sharing toys or using them with more than one partner, make sure to choose a water-based lubricant.
Coconut Oil is a Safe Place to Start.
Coconut oil is a great “gate-way lubricant” for several reasons:
1. It has natural anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties
2. It is cheap.
3. It is readily available at grocery or health food stores.
4. It stains sheets and clothing less than some other oil-based lubricants (such the olive oil the Ancient Romans and Greeks reportedly used for lubrication).
5. It is semi-solid and less messy than liquid lubricants which can spill. Here’s a trick, if you store your coconut oil in the refrigerator it will become more solid and less messy.
6. It is moisturizing. In fact, some women’s health providers advice middle-age women with vaginal dryness to use coconut oil vaginally and externally on their vulva 2-3 times per/week regardless of whether or not they are having sex, just to help add moisture to their tissues. You can even make your own suppositories for vaginal moisturizing by scooping out a little coconut oil, shaping it into a bullet shape, wrapping it in plastic wrap, and storing it in your freezer. Then, before bed, remove the plastic wrap and insert the solid coconut oil suppository with a clean finger into your vagina. The heat of your body will help it melt and moisturize the inside of your vagina while you are sleeping.
Where you can learn more about lubricants:
Where to buy lubes:
1. Grocery stores or pharmacies. For example, plain coconut oil is one of the cheapest and easiest lubricant to buy right from your grocery shelf or health food store.
2. Online or from special stores.
When Lube is Not Enough.
Many women continue to experience sexual side effects of aging, even after trying lubricants. It is important to know that there are many other treatment options and solutions for your pain, dryness, infections, or lack of interest in sex. The key is to find a qualified and empathetic women’s health care provider who you can feel comfortable raising your concerns with.
There are several prescription treatments available that can help with vaginal dryness and recurrent vaginal and urinary infections related to sexual intercourse. Some of the treatments include hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Using low-dose vaginal hormone therapy can be very helpful for women for whom lube or vaginal moisturizers did not work, because these medications can reverse the thinning and drying of vaginal tissues, rather than just providing temporary relief (what lubes and moisturizers do.
It is important to know that when you use these hormones locally (as a cream or suppository absorbed through your vaginal skin), very little of the hormone is absorbed by the rest of your body. This is different from taking the hormones as a pill. For this reason, research data does not show an increased risk of cancer recurrence among women currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer or those with a personal history of breast cancer who use vaginal estrogen to relieve symptoms (ACOG, 2016). The same is true for other women who might have medical reasons why they may not be able to take estrogen systemically, but may be able to use it vaginally.
Women can notice improvement in vaginal dryness and discomfort within a matter of weeks of starting vaginal hormone therapy. Very often, once sex feels better, women understandably are more excited about having sex, and thus libido and desire increase as a result. If sex is painful or you get a urinary tract infection every time after you are sexually active, of course you aren’t going to want to have sex, no matter how much you love your partner!