Maybe you don’t have a doctor. Perhaps you don’t have time for a visit, or you don’t want to make a phone call to schedule one and explain to the receptionist that you’re having an issue with your vagina. But when something seems a little off with your sex organs, it can often feel like it’s affecting your entire life.
However, vaginal dryness is far too common of an issue to let it cause that kind of disruption. If you feel dry, itchy, or irritated in that region, you may be experiencing vaginal dryness. It can cause dryness during sex, leading to pain during sex, which can decrease the enjoyment of a sexual encounter or make it nearly unbearable altogether. It also can cause soreness in the area, frequent UTIs, and general discomfort. So whether you have the time or resources for a doctor’s visit or not, you’re probably going to want to resolve the issue asap.
Enter: home remedies for dryness. They’re out there, and there are plenty of them that you can try before you call up the physician and spill. However, not all of them will do the trick, and some of them can even cause several adverse side effects. Here, we will dive into one particular home remedy that you should avoid: herbal treatments. They’re great for many things, but when it comes to home remedies for dryness, you can do better.
Who can experience vaginal dryness?
Before we begin, we’ll start with an answer to this question: who can experience vaginal dryness? Well, nearly anyone with a vagina after puberty. However, a few factors can increase your options, so before you head to the cabinet to drink some Primrose Oil, let’s hammer down a few of the causes so you know what may have gotten you here.
The most common cause of vaginal dryness is a decrease in the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. So, of course, menopause is a common cause of reducing these hormones. But if you’re years away from that next phase of your life and you’re experiencing the symptoms, know that you aren’t a medical anomaly, nor are you doomed to the dryness for life. Certain medications (acne meds, we’re looking at you), yeast infections, UTIs, lice, STDs, and even certain contraceptives containing hormones can cause vaginal dryness before menopause. So if you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, whether you’re 30 or have just started menopause, don’t worry too much. There are plenty of home remedies for dryness that can help. However, if you’re prone to taking the natural route, this is one instance where you may want to reconsider.
What are herbal treatments?
Herbal treatments are derived from herbs, essentially plants with certain scents, flavors, or therapeutic properties that distinguish them from your average tree or flower. Herbal treatments are common for casual use, such as in aromatherapy, powdered supplements, or even just in a cup of tea. Still, you may want to think twice before turning to the herbs when it comes to something like your reproductive organs.
Why Not Herbal?
Herbal treatments indeed have their uses, but when it comes to home remedies for dryness, they’re not recommended – especially over other home remedies that might even be in your cabinet at this very moment. Here’s why.
- FDA Approval: Herbal treatments are not considered drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA), creating perhaps the #1 argument against their use: they’re exempt from the scrutiny that the FDA reserves for substances it does consider drugs. Instead, herbal treatments are treated as food by the FDA. This allows them to bypass much of the testing, labeling, and manufacturing standards that the FDA requires of drugs, making them much less regulated overall. However, without that FDA stamp of approval as a drug, herbal treatments get much more of a green light as they move from production to sale and could be subject to poor oversight. So while it’s great to keep things natural, when you’re using a substance as medicine for your genitals, you may find you want a little regulation, to be sure.
- Side Effects: While the FDA might not consider them drugs, herbal treatments can have side effects like the other prescriptions or over-the-counter bottles in your cabinet – and serious ones. For example, Kava, an herb often used for symptoms of menopause (among other things like anxiety and insomnia), can cause severe liver damage. Again, the FDA might not regulate it as a drug, but the organization did feel the need to go so far as to issue a warning about this side effect. Black Cohosh, another herb considered helpful for menopause symptoms, has the same potential side effect. And Dong Quai, another herb, can cause bleeding complications for women with preexisting blood clotting problems. The list goes on, and sometimes it gets more specific, causing certain dangerous side effects in some people but not others. This brings us to the next point.
- Research is Required: With the FDA not doing the legwork for you, you must do the research yourself before turning to herbal supplements. Each supplement has specific uses that it may work for. Still, there are two caveats to these potential wonder drugs: the first is that clinical studies rarely support their uses. The second is that even if a supplement appears to work for some people, it may have particular side effects for others. For example, some herbal supplements don’t mix well with certain medications and can even be life-threatening when mixed. At the same time, some can cause other damage if you have a particular condition unrelated to what you’re using it for. So if you’re going to take a leap and try out an herbal treatment, you need to have the time to thoroughly catch yourself up on the latest research to find out if you may fall in a danger zone for that herb. So before you begin, consider this: do you have the time to do all that when there may be a safer treatment already sitting in your refrigerator?
Natural remedies can be a great thing. People around the world have been putting them to use for centuries. Herbal treatments gave us chamomile tea for relaxing at night, aloe for sunburns, and flaxseed as a great source of fiber. But when it comes to treating vaginal dryness, a simple Google search will essentially steer you away from herbal treatments for this particular purpose, and it’s for a good reason. From multivitamins to probiotics to simply trying out a balanced diet or mixing in some vaginal exercises, there are numerous home remedies for dryness that can get you on the right path. Of course, a Google search will also provide you with plenty of those. But here, we’re aiming to answer whether herbal treatments are a safe and effective home remedy for dryness. Hopefully, the above reasoning did the trick.