Natural vaginal gels are rising in popularity, but do they work as well as estrogen-based creams?
The word ‘natural’ might give you the confidence that a product is kinder to sensitive skin (and the planet) but you might also feel like they are less effective - but that’s not the case.
Natural vaginal gels work as well as estrogen-based creams. But there’s more to it than that; in many cases, natural gels are the safer choice, meaning that for many women, they are even better than estrogen-based creams that, in many cases, do not have clinical evidence of efficiency.
We know that you only want to put the best between your legs, so it’s important to be aware of all the pros and cons of any products created for your V.
Estrogen Based Creams
These types of vaginal creams are typically recommended for women who experience vaginal dryness due to low estrogen levels. This most commonly occurs in women undergoing menopause but can also result from a hysterectomy or chemotherapy/radiation therapy to the pelvis, among many other causes. It can also happen when you’re breastfeeding.
When estrogen levels drop, the cells lining of the vagina can become thinner, which can lead to dryness, itching, and pain during sex. In short, declining estrogen can lead to a very unhappy vagina.
For women experiencing this drop in estrogen levels - especially during menopause - doctors may recommend Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Whilst there are some well-publicized risks of using HRT, estrogen-based creams are one of the safer methods of hormone therapy. That’s because less estrogen ends up in the bloodstream when it’s absorbed through the skin rather than taken as a pill. However, it is still possible for some estrogen to make its way there from the vaginal tissues.
While this treatment is often recommended for those with declining estrogen levels, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use estrogen-based vaginal creams. If someone becomes pregnant while using this product, they must stop using it immediately as it could pose a risk to the baby and the pregnancy.
Natural Vaginal Gels
Natural vaginal creams can offer a lot of the benefits of estrogen-based creams, without the associated risks. They don’t contain any hormones or harmful chemicals, so can be used, with confidence, by anyone needing relief from vaginal dryness. They are a great option for women of all life stages - especially women who are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant in the near future.
It’s also important to remember that not everyone who suffers from vaginal dryness can blame a drop in estrogen. Sometimes vaginal dryness is due to an allergy, whereas other times, it can be triggered by medication or an underlying medical condition like diabetes. For these people, estrogen-based creams are not going to help solve the problem. In fact, using hormonal creams when the issues are not linked to a decrease in estrogen could put your health at risk. Supplying the body with more estrogen when it does not need it can cause future complications, the most severe being breast cancer.
A natural vaginal cream uses natural ingredients, and no hormones, to address vaginal dryness. However, natural doesn’t mean short term relief from naturally occurring lubricants, oh no! These creams also include active ingredients that help to provide a long-term solution to vaginal dryness, all without using estrogen.
Active Ingredients in Natural Vaginal Gels
There are a few different active ingredients that you will find in natural vaginal gels, but let’s take a closer look at two of the most common ones.
Benzoic acid is a compound that occurs in nature in cherry bark, raspberries, tea, anise, and cassia bark. It has so many incredible benefits for the skin and can help tackle vaginal dryness in two ways. Firstly, it’s hydrating, so it can immediately moisturize dry and irritated areas. But, more importantly, it also reinforces the skin barrier, which helps your vagina lock in moisture and reduces the risk of dryness in the long term.
Benzoic acid is also a preservative and helps to regulate the pH of products it is used in, which is especially important for the vagina, where changes in pH can trigger vaginal dryness and infection.
Lactic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid. Now the word acid might make you a bit nervous, but it’s totally safe - even for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Lactic acid is loved by skincare fans due to its ability to exfoliate away dead skin cells and encourage the development of new ones - revealing beautiful, smooth skin. In the vagina, this happens naturally through vaginal mucus and moisture, but if you suffer from vaginal dryness, it won’t happen as effectively. A build-up of dry, dead skin cells can lead to even more irritation, which is why lactic acid is such an important ingredient of natural vaginal creams.
In addition, like Benzoic acid, lactic acid helps to hydrate and maintain the skin barrier, which improves the vaginal tissue’s ability to retain moisture.
Estrogen-Based Creams vs. Natural Gels
Both estrogen-based creams and natural gels can help treat vaginal dryness. However, estrogen-based creams aren’t safe for everyone and come with a list of potential side effects.
For those looking for the best non-estrogen menopause treatment, natural vaginal gels are the way to go. Not sure where to start? Vagivital has an active gel that improves moisture and alleviates irritation, all without the use of hormones.
Lee, K. et al. A study of facial wrinkles improvement effect of veratric acid from cauliflower mushroom through photo-protective mechanisms against UVB irradiation. Arch Dermatol Res (2016)