Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a common ingredient in skincare products. You may have seen it listed as an ingredient in daily facial cleansers, anti-aging serums, or even supplements. HA is often used to help promote hydration, so it is a natural question to ask if you can use hyaluronic acid for vaginal dryness.
Vaginal dryness is common in menopausal women, but it can occur at any age for various reasons. Using hyaluronic acid may provide relief without the need for hormone therapy.
In this post, we will explore hyaluronic acid for vaginal dryness, including how it works, its benefits, and its side effects.
Table of contents
- What is hyaluronic acid?
- Benefits of HA
- How is hyaluronic acid made?
- How does hyaluronic acid work?
- What causes vaginal dryness?
- Can you use hyaluronic acid for vaginal dryness?
- Hyaluronic acid side effects
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a thick, gooey, liquid that your body produces naturally. You can find it in various parts of your body including your eyes, skin, and joints. A person weighing around 70kg on average has about 15g of it in their body. However, roughly one-third of that gets synthesized and degraded on a daily basis.
As you age, your body produces less hyaluronic acid, which explains why it's a primary ingredient in many anti-aging products. If you don’t produce enough HA, it can cause dryness. When the skin does not have enough moisture, it makes fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable.
Benefits of HA
Hyaluronic acid acts as a lubricant and cushion in the joints and other tissues. It binds and retains moisture to promote natural hydration from the inside out.
Another benefit of hyaluronic acid is that it helps to repair the skin and enhance tissue regeneration. Some use hyaluronic acid to repair skin that has been damaged from inflammation, burns, lesions, scarring, and other blemishes.
Besides nourishing the skin, hyaluronic acid has been said to reduce vaginal dryness while keeping the microbiome and pH levels normal. Menopausal women and those experiencing vaginal dryness from oral contraceptives, stress, or other factors, might use hyaluronic acid as a treatment option.
How is hyaluronic acid made?
As previously mentioned, hyaluronic acid is naturally found in our bodies. But, to create the acid to use in products, it needs to be derived from other sources. There are two main ways that hyaluronic acid is made—pulling it from natural sources or creating synthetic alternatives.
Animal-based hyaluronic acid
Like humans, animals also produce a significant amount of hyaluronic acid. If a product uses animal-based HA, it is not vegan and is usually sourced from rooster combs.
Note, that most hyaluronic products these days do not use this method, but some products may. The animal-based HA is often used in injections and supplements, so you’ll want to research the company and ingredients.
Plant-based hyaluronic acid
This is a vegan hyaluronic acid alternative. Instead of sourcing the HA from animals, it comes from a synthetic, chemical process known as microbial fermentation.
Microbial fermentation is the most commonly used method in hyaluronic acid extraction. It is more cost-effective and eco-friendly because it doesn't use animal products. Many skincare and vaginal gel lines use plant-based HA in their formulations.
How does hyaluronic acid work?
Hyaluronic acid can penetrate deeply into the skin and bind water to the skin cells. Studies show that it can hold up to 1000 times its molecular weight in water, making it an excellent hydrating agent.
To compensate for the lack of moisture, dry skin may overproduce oil and lead to breakouts. This is why HA products are often used in acne treatments—it hydrates your skin and balances your moisture levels to avoid excessive oil production.
Hyaluronic acid is also a humectant, which means that it doesn’t just moisturize, but also reduces the loss of moisture from your body.
Sodium hyaluronate is a unique hyaluronic acid form that is more easily absorbed into the skin's dermal layer. Many manufacturers prefer it because it’s faster and more effective in treating dry, itching skin.
What causes vaginal dryness?
Vaginal dryness can result from several factors. The primary cause is a drop in estrogen, a hormone that helps keep the vaginal tissues lubricated and healthy. Estrogen production often drops as women age, especially during perimenopause and menopause. Low levels of estrogen cause vaginal dryness, irritation, and inflammation of the vaginal walls leading to painful intercourse.
Other factors include:
- Chemotherapy around the pelvic area
- Birth control pills
- Severe stress
- Perfumes and douches
Can you use hyaluronic acid for vaginal dryness?
Hyaluronic acid is considered safe for topical use and may help with vaginal atrophy and painful sex.
It has outstanding hydrating capabilities and can penetrate deeply into your vaginal tissues and improve their elasticity. Many women use estrogen prescriptions to reduce vaginal dryness, while others opt for hormone therapy.
Unfortunately, not every woman can undergo estrogen therapy. For instance, those with breast or uterine cancers and other hormone-sensitive cancers may avoid exposure to estrogen.
The benefit of using hyaluronic acid for vaginal dryness is that most people can repeatedly use it safely as directed. Vaginal moisturizers and gels produce the best results when used consistently over time.
Hyaluronic acid side effects
The word "acid" might make you think hyaluronic acid is a harsh agent, but it isn’t. In fact, it is generally considered safe to use internally and externally. When it comes to topical hyaluronic acid, negative side effects are rare. Most experience no side effects unless they have a known sensitivity.
Since hyaluronic acid is produced naturally in the body, allergic reactions are also rare. Those who are allergic to hyaluronic acid may experience vaginal itching and discharge.
Some women that don’t pursue hormone therapy for dryness, might test using hyaluronic acid instead. With any new product, you should try a skin test first, and also consult your doctor.
Although the HA gets a safety rating, it is best to get your products from reputable companies to avoid severe effects. Hyaluronic acid has various forms, and manufacturers use different product labels. To spot it on the ingredients labels, look for the following:
- Sodium Hyaluronate
Like other products used to restore vaginal tissues, hyaluronic moisturizers and gels are more effective when used regularly. As previously mentioned, consistency is vital. If you only use these products when you notice dryness, you may not feel the effectiveness. You should aim to use products at least four times a week.
Millions of women experience vaginal dryness at some point in their lives. While it's common, you don't need to suffer through it. A vaginal hyaluronic acid gel or moisturizer could help you get relief and restore hydration. If the symptoms persist, you should visit your healthcare provider for examinations and recommendations on the right treatment for you.