The Lowdown on Vulvar Moisturization
By Angelique Montano-Bresolin
Pelvic Health Physiotherapist
If you’ve ever heard someone mention that they were using something to moisturize their lady lips, you would probably be thinking, ‘Say What???’ Yes ladies, vulvar moisturization can be a game changer for many individuals who struggle with dryness ‘down there’. In this blog, I’ll take you on a quick ride to help you explore the option of vulvar moisturization – what it is, who it can help and what you should consider when deciding on a vulvar moisturizer to use.
Firstly, we can’t discuss this topic without going over what the vulva is. So in simple terms, when we speak about the vulva, we are referring to the external genitalia of the female body. This includes the labia, clitoris, urethra, perineum and anus. The vulva is not the vagina. The vagina is the internal canal that starts at the vulva and ends at the cervix of the uterus. Many people of all genders often refer to the vulva as the vagina but this is incorrect.
What is vulvar moisturization?
Now that we have cleared up the anatomy of genitalia, let’s discuss moisturization. Vulvar moisturization is exactly what it sounds like. It is using a substance to help enhance moisture to the skin of the external genitalia. Similar to when you use a moisturizer on your face or a lip balm on your lips, vulvar moisturization is like a lip balm for your lady lips. It can help ease dryness, discomfort, itching and chafing of the vulva. It is different from a lubricant, as although moisturizers can also function as a lubricant, vulvar moisturizers are made to be longer lasting and focused on providing lubrication to the skin over time for the purpose of skin comfort and maintenance.
Who can it help?
Vulvar moisturization can be a good option for anyone experiencing dryness in the area, however there are a few populations that may be at higher risk for experiencing dryness and discomfort. They include:
- Peri-menopause and post-menopause
- Postpartum (especially for those breastfeeding or chestfeeding)
- Post cancer treatment (chemotherapy or radiation)
- Those taking medications that contribute to dryness of the skin (such as oral contraceptives, acne medication, anti-depressants, anti-histamines etc.)
- Autoimmune conditions (such as Sjogren’s, Lichen Sclerosus, Lichen Simplex Chronicus)
- Cigarette smoking
- Female athletes
A few things to consider when choosing a vulvar moisturizer
Skincare is very personal and not all products will work for every individual, but there are a few things to take into consideration when choosing a vulvar moisturizer. Firstly, you want to understand what your goals are when using a moisturizer. Are you wanting to just ease dryness? Are you looking for added protection? Are you looking to ease irritation?
There are a few properties of vulvar moisturizers to think about:
- Emollient: Does it help soften and lubricate the skin?
- Occlusive: Does it create a protective barrier to prevent the loss of moisture?
- Humectant: Does it pull or retain water in the skin?
- Non-Comedogenic: Is it less likely to clog the pores?
Not all products will achieve all these properties and not everyone needs all four. For example a post-menopausal woman struggling with itching and dryness daily may need a vulvar moisturizer that can assist with all four; but a women in her twenties may just want something to help soothe and protect her skin after hair removal treatments, but doesn’t need further moisturization of the skin on a daily basis.
As we know, the ingredients used in skincare products are quite diverse, but typically ingredients selected will have a particular purpose in order to achieve specific goals. For instance, using an ingredient that is non-comedogenic or less likely to clog the pores may be important for someone that has issues with acne.
If you think you may benefit from using a vulvar moisturizer, try to determine what it is you are trying to achieve and what is important to you when it comes to its ingredients.
A good option to consider is FemmeSense Vulvar Balm, which is a vulvar moisturizer derived from 100% natural ingredients and has emollient, occlusive and humectant properties with the use of hyaluronic acid and natural ceramides. It is also non-comedogenic, hormone-free, contains no preservatives, fragrances, parabens or sulfates.
I hope this helps you better understand skincare ‘down there’. Just like the skin elsewhere on the body, consider giving your labia the love that it perhaps needs and certainly deserves.
Angelique Montano-Bresolin, Reg. PT, BSc. PT, HBA Kin, received her Honours Bachelor of Arts Kinesiology degree from the University of Western Ontario and her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Toronto. She has practiced as a Registered Physiotherapist in Ontario for over 20 years with a specialty practice in pelvic health physiotherapy. Angelique received her training in the field of pelvic floor rehabilitation both in Canada and the United States through the Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute, Pelvic Health Solutions, UroSante, the Women’s Health Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and the American Physical Therapy Association. She acts as a Clinical Internship Supervisor and Guest Lecturer for the Toronto Metropolitan University Midwifery Education Program and the University of Toronto Physical Therapy Program. Angelique also acts as a teaching assistant for the educational company, Pelvic Health Solutions. In 2012, she founded Proactive Pelvic Health Centre, Toronto’s first private multi-disciplinary clinic in Toronto, devoted to pelvic health rehabilitation for people of all genders, ages and stages of life. Her latest passion project is the creation of Pelvic Health Hub in 2021, a digital boutique of online education courses and holistic pelvic health products