Moisturizers, Lubricants, and Vulvar Hygiene Products: Issues, Answers, and Clinical Implications

Abstract

Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) is a group of symptoms that encompasses vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA), and affects more than half of all postmenopausal females. There are many etiologies that may cause GSM-like symptoms including declining hormone levels, post partum lactation, medications, and certain medical illnesses. GSM is often under-recognized by both the woman and her health care professional. VVA can cause a constellation of signs and symptoms including irritation, pain burning, and itchiness. Although systemic and local hormonal treatment is often recommended, many women may decline their use or opt for a more conservative approach. Numerous women are opting for over-the-counter products for their dryness solutions, including moisturizers, lubricants, and vulvar washes to help manage these symptoms. There is a lot of consumer confusion concerning these products, and with a plethora of varieties on the market, it is easy for the woman to get confused concerning type of products and the additives and chemical that maybe found within them. This review article summarizes the common characteristics of vaginal moisturizers, lubricants, washes, and dispels some of the misperceptions concerning common chemical/additives found in these products. It is important for the reader to note that trade names of several over-the-counter products are mentioned throughout the manuscript and this should not be interpreted as a specific product endorsement.

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Correspondence to M. L. Krychman.

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Conflict of Interest

Jamie Patterson and Leah Millheiser declare that they have no conflict of interest. Michael L. Krychman reports grants from NERI and Evidera; has served as advisor and speaker for Shionogi and Sermonix; and has received fees as consultant for Uniderm, Rickett Benckiser, and Pfizer.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Female Sexual Dysfunction and Disorders

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Patterson, J., Millheiser, L. & Krychman, M.L. Moisturizers, Lubricants, and Vulvar Hygiene Products: Issues, Answers, and Clinical Implications. Curr Sex Health Rep 8, 213–221 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11930-016-0091-0

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Keywords

  • Vulvar hygiene products
  • Genitourinary syndrome of menopause
  • Vulvovaginal atrophy
  • Moisturizers
  • Lubricants
  • Review