A Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr. Modupe Adedeji, has cautioned women experiencing vaginal dryness against using moisturisers and olive oil to treat the condition.
The maternal health expert noted that using olive oil and moisturisers could introduce infections to the vaginal environment and cause more serious health problems.
According to her, menopausal women and breastfeeding mothers experiencing vaginal dryness should seek help from experts and not resort to self-treatment.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an interview, Dr. Adedeji stressed that any prescription that would help to lubricate the vagina should come from experts.
“It is because the persons that experience vaginal dryness are mostly menopausal women. Those are the set of women that we may want to show concern to.
“So, they will not only present with vaginal dryness, but they may also present with other menopausal problems that they cannot cope with.
“As a result of that, we may now have to introduce estrogen in that place. So, there is estrogen cream or we may even start giving them estrogen drugs or injection. That could help them to have a moist vagina.
“For the group of reproductive women that are not enjoying sex, those women can use lubricants but the lubricants must be recommended by an expert.”
The maternal health expert noted that perimenopausal and menopausal women complain more of vaginal dryness, adding that the dryness of the vagina increases the risk for vulvovaginitis – vaginal infections.
Dr. Adedeji advised women not to use anything that will tamper with the normal vaginal environment. The specialist added:
“But some people will go and be using olive oil. Olive oil is not okay for the vagina. Some people will go and pick something from the shelf without reading the content and it will start destroying the normal vaginal environment.
“They can introduce the infection to the area thereby compounding the problem. In the end, they are left with an infection.
“So, there are some lubricants that we prescribe. It will prevent pain during sexual intercourse and make the vagina moist. The prescriptions that will help to lubricate the vagina should come from an expert.”
According to her, the vagina as an organ of the human body, has its milieu, stressing that the vaginal environment is usually distorted when moisturisers and lubricants not recommended are used.
Continuing, she said,
“The vaginal environment is expected to ensure there are no recurrent infections. Anytime the expected acidic pH is distorted, it gives room for infections.
“As experts, we really do not recommend moisturisers. We first identify the cause. Management is then directed at the cause.
“Menopause is the commonest identifiable cause. Hence, we counsel such patients and in extreme cases, we could recommend hormonal topical or systemic agents.”
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, vaginal dryness can cause irritation, burning, and pain with intercourse.
“It’s common after menopause, and it also can happen in the years leading up to menopause. Low estrogen and vaginal dryness can happen at other times. Estrogen levels can fall after childbirth, with breastfeeding, during cancer treatment, or with anti-estrogen drugs.
“Then there are non-hormonal factors. Cold and allergy medications and some antidepressants can dry out vaginal tissue,”