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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Using vaginal moisturisers & lubricants

Vaginal moisturisers and lubricants can relieve symptoms of vaginal dryness. They have different uses and are safe to use long term.

A vaginal lubricant is used for sexual activity. It provides short-acting moisture to your vagina to make intimacy more pleasurable.

A vaginal moisturiser lasts longer than a lubricant and is better at replacing moisture. Like a moisturiser you have for your face, this is a moisturiser for your vagina. You do not need to be sexually active to use a vaginal moisturiser. You can use it at any time.

You can use vaginal moisturisers and lubricants together.

Vaginal moisturisers and lubricants can irritate some people. Coloured, flavoured or warming lubricants can be irritating. If this happens, use a basic lubricant. Ingredients such as chlorhexidine, glycerin (also called glycerine), and propylene glycol can also cause irritation. If this happens to you, try to avoid any products that contain these ingredients.

Vaginal moisturisers

There are several brands of vaginal moisturiser. You can buy them online or at your local pharmacy. You cannot get them on prescription. Vaginal moisturisers do not contain hormones.

You apply some products with your fingers. Others come with an internal applicator that you insert into your vagina. Sometimes, some of the product can leak after you have applied it. This is normal.

Always check the product label as some vaginal moisturisers can cause certain types of condoms to fail.

You can also try using a natural oil such as sweet almond, olive or coconut oil in and around your vagina. Keep in mind that natural oils, like oil-based lubricants can cause condoms to fail.

Do not use petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or another moisturiser such as a face or body cream as a vaginal moisturiser. They can make your irritation worse or cause an infection.

Vaginal lubricants

There are three types of vaginal lubricants:

You can buy them online or at your local pharmacy or supermarket. You cannot get them on prescription.

Do not use oil-based lubricants with condoms as they can cause the condom to break or fail. You can use water and silicone-based lubricants with condoms.

Water-based lubricants dry up more quickly than silicone or oil-based products. If a water-based lubricant dries up, you can add a little water or saliva to make it slippery again.

Apply the lubricant in and around your vagina, on your partner's penis, on your partner's fingers or on a sex toy if you are using one.

Getting help with vaginal dryness

If your vaginal dryness does not improve after trying vaginal moisturisers or lubricants, see your general practice team.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created December 2023.


Page reference: 1294867

Review key: HIVVC-53223