Your Vagina. Use it or lose it.

by Chloe Jeffreys · 82 comments

in Your Vagina and You

Dear Chloe,

I have an embarrassing problem. I am 52 and have been happily married for 18 years. Lately my vagina seems dry and tender. And after sex my vagina burns and feels sore. Is there something wrong with me, and what can I do about this?


Parched in the Privates

Dear Parched,

Welcome to the second act of the Wonderful World of Womanhood.

In Act One we were treated to scenes of bleeding, cramps, and childbirth. Just when we’d gotten a handle on all of that Act Two comes along bringing with it vaginal dryness, night sweats, and chin hairs. Lucky us.

Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Nearly one-half of all women will experience vaginal dryness due to the decline of estrogen that occurs as a result of menopause.1

Vaginal dryness is just one of the symptoms of something called vaginal atrophy (Aack!). Other symptoms of vaginal atrophy are burning, soreness, painful intercourse, and frequent UTIs.2

What the F&*K is Happening to Me??

What is happening is that our plump and pretty little ovaries—which are where estrogen is produced–are shriveling up and wasting away.  Check out this super-scientific illustration that will help you visualize what’s going on:


Because of this, your vagina, once a verdant garden of pleasure,


can become a dried-up wasteland.


What is a girl to do?

See Your Doctor

The first step is telling your healthcare provider what is going on. Most likely you are going to have to be the one to bring it up.

Because most of us don’t get sexually stimulated during a vaginal exam, your doctor can’t tell how well you’re lubricating during sex. And because doctors are people too, and people have manners, they most likely aren’t going to point out that your vagina looks like the Sahara if you don’t complain.

They are depending on you to tell them if you have a problem!

After a thorough internal exam and a health history, your doctor will likely recommend one or more of the following treatments:

Vaginal Lubricants

Sexual lubricants are often enough for treating mild vaginal dryness. You are probably familiar with the water-based lubricants like KY and Astroglide, but I really like a silicone-based product you can get through Amazon called Wet Platinum.  Just remember that you can’t use silicon-based lubricants with silicone sex toys!

Avoid the ones with irritating chemicals that promise to give you a “new sensation” because that new sensation might be the feeling like your vagina is on fire (Read this post if you want to read about my own experience.)


Vaginal moisturizers

Vaginal moisturizers are not the same as sexual lubricants. These products are long-acting, non-hormonal gels that you insert with an applicator during non-sexy time every 3-5 days to keep your lady parts supple and moist and ready for action. These products work by coating dry, compacted cells and protecting them while your body naturally regenerates some new juicy cells.

Clinical trials show that vaginal moisturizers are just as effective as vaginal estrogen in treating vaginal dryness, making this a good choice if hormone replacement therapy is not an option for you due to concerns about cancer.3

Two products on the market are Replens® and one I reviewed called Hyalo GYN®. Replens is available everywhere, but it gave me a weird discharge that was unacceptable. Hyalo GYN didn’t cause the discharge, but it isn’t easy to find in stores and you have to use these products regularly to get the beneficial effects.

Vaginal Estrogen Therapy

Estrogen therapy became very controversial after a large longitudinal study called the Women’s Health Initiative found that “synthetic progesterone, when used with synthetic estrogen, increases the risk for breast cancer in some women.” This finding has been repeatedly reported in the media and now many women and their doctors are afraid of estrogen for fear of breast cancer.4

This isn’t the time nor the place to explore this complicated issue, but if you are interested in doing research for yourself here’s a couple of links to start.

One thing you need to know is that vaginal estrogen is considered more effective in treating vaginal atrophy than oral estrogen. And since vaginal estrogen enters the blood stream in very minuscule quantities they are safer than oral estrogen for women with cancer or blood clot concerns.

Studies show that bioidentical vaginal hormone replacement therapy is just as effective as synthetic hormone replacement.5

Vaginal estrogen therapy comes in creams, rings, and suppositories. Oh my.

  • Creams, like Estrace and Premarin, are messy, but can be useful in keeping external vaginal tissue plump and moist.
  • The vaginal estrogen ring, Estring, is convenient and not messy, but might be more expensive depending on your medical coverage.
  • Suppositories, like Vagifem, are less convenient than the ring, but not as messy as creams.

Rings and suppositories might not be enough if you are experiencing atrophy of the labia and clitoris (Aack!) This is why some doctors prescribe Vagifem or Estring for internal use and vaginal cream for external use.

Natural Remedies

There is no scientific evidence that herbs like Black Cohosh help at all. One study done on 350 women showed no benefit when compared to a placebo.6

Some women swear by coconut oil to relieve vaginal dryness and moisturize vaginal tissue. I must admit that it smells wonderful and makes a great sexual lubricant. But I don’t like how it can stain my sheets, so definitely use a towel. And one of the perks of menopause is that I can now buy beautiful panties. I’m not about to ruin them by getting them all greasy.

Use it or Lose it

Your vagina is a muscle that was made for sex. If you don’t use it, over time, your juicy vagina with wither away.

Why You Should Care

Women and men who have active sex lives are happier and live longer7. Why? Probably because sex is what you do when you aren’t dead. One of the sure sign-posts on the road to dead is to stop having sex.

Even a good sex life may falter as we age. Doing the same things over and over again is boring.  It’s also likely your sexual partner is experiencing some changes due to aging, too. While you’re worried about your drying vagina, he may be feeling anxious about his virility.

Now is the time to get honest about who you are and what you want sexually. (Here is the controversial post I wrote about getting down and dirty after being brutally honest with my husband.).

Maybe it is time to bring some toys into the fun, or start trying the things you’ve always been afraid to try.

Don’t wait to live the life you want. You aren’t going to live forever.


  1. (prevalence of vaginal atrophy)
  2. (Aging changes in the female reproductive system)
  3. (Replens as effective as hormonal replacement)
  4. (Vaginal Estrogen in post-menopausal breast cancer patients)
  5. (Vagifem versus Premarin Vaginal Cream
  6. (Black Cohosh ineffective in treating vaginal atrophy)

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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

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S April 5, 2016 at 4:26 am

Vagina dryness is a common disease in women’s. If you choose right under clothing it’s may better help you to reduce your dryness. There are also home remedies are available but if you have more dryness in your vagina please take a suggestion from a doctor. This is wonderful article which can provide how to cure from vagina dryness


Wanjy March 26, 2016 at 12:48 am



Abby August 3, 2015 at 10:26 pm

Ha! Chin hairs. Me too. I keep a tweezer in my purse now. I had a lot of trouble finding a good vaginal moisturizer that I can use because the last couple of years have brought not only dryness, but also a proneness for yeast infections. Glycerin is a no-no for me, and I can’t do any kind of fragrance. I like Ladybits Jelly a lot, it works well, doesn’t have any scary chemicals, and best of all, doesn’t give me a yeast infection.


Caette May 3, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Another product to check out is YES. Much more natural with no chemicals. There are two selections, a natural oil based and a water based which has the same look and feel as, well, you know what. It comes in “take along” sizes too for travel.


Lisa Rapose April 21, 2015 at 6:36 am

Best. Blog. Ever.

Can not stop smiling.


Mary Buchan May 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm

I love this! You have balls, you use them well, you say it like it is and I respect you for it.


Chloe Jeffreys May 10, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I like to call them my “Girlie Balls”.


Liv May 10, 2014 at 10:01 am

Wow. Did you see the Dr. Oz on this topic? With the sponges? It was enlightening. Nowhere close to your fantastic illustrations (I think you found your calling). Thanks for the informative and humourous article.


Chloe Jeffreys May 10, 2014 at 1:13 pm

I did not see Dr. Oz, but I know Dr. Streicher who is his OB/GYN consultant for the show. Dr. Streicher might have the degree, but she can’t match my scientific artwork, huh? Thanks for the comment, and the share, Liv. I really appreciate you.


Liv May 10, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Sorry you missed it. He used sponges to illustrate. The dry nasty one was almost as good as your fire pic. Almost.


Julie DeNeen May 9, 2014 at 9:04 pm

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Chloe Jeffreys May 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I have been thinking about you A LOT. Reading your book and it’s rocking my world in so many ways that I’m sure you never intended when you wrote it. The price we pay trying to be loved when we feel deep-down fundamentally unlovable can be so high sometimes. I’m so sorry what that man did to you. And I am so glad you have a man like Andrew who truly loves you so completely. I am loved that way and it is a miracle whenever I think about having a man who loves me that much. God bless you, my friend. I thought I liked you a lot, but I’m not falling in love.


Tejinder May 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Very nice good to read.


Kim November 18, 2013 at 5:23 am

Hi, I do notice that days after sex my ( purse ) does seem to be more
moist. Well all I have to say is my babe is gonna be happy to hear that
lol. The last time I thought I was gonna die the pain was so bad. It was
never that dry before. I actually had to insert my finger to see what
the heck was going on up there lol. Then I felt it was dry as a dessert.
I had to use a vaginal insert to continue the act, it helped a little but
the pain was still there. Days after the act I felt much better. I’m not
sure if it was the insert or the act itself. What do you think about herbs
for this problem?


Chloe Jeffreys November 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I do not know of any herbal supplements that will actually cure severe vaginal dryness.


Wynn October 31, 2013 at 10:02 am

I’ve recently been given a prescription for Estrace as well as two sample tubes to start with. The purpose is not only to moisturize but to restore some estrogen production, at least that’s what the doctor told me. The product contains propylene glycol, stearyl alcohol, mono- and di-glycerides, sodium lauryl sulfate and methylparaben, t-butylhydroquinone(?) among others I’ve never heard of. I refuse to use these chemicals on the outside of my body, I’m certainly not going to use them on the inside!
So, currently I’m using organic virgin coconut oil but that only addresses the dryness issue. Replens sounds like it may be a good choice but does it also contain any of the above mentioned chemicals?
Finally, and unfortunately, I have not had a partner for several years. The shower massage has taken the place for arousal, it’s fun but definitely does not replace the real thing! 🙂


Chloe Jeffreys October 31, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Wynn, I have not ever tried Replens. My guess is that it likely does have ingredients like that. I know many people who are using organic coconut oil with excellent results. Sorry to hear about the lack of partner. At least a shower massager doesn’t break your heart.


Sherry August 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I just wanted to say that I hate menopause. I am 47 and went through menopause at 40. No surgeries, just menopause. I have been drying out since my mid 30’s. The information above is very helpful. Thank you. I have been prescribed Premarin and Estrace of which did work well, but I just don’t want to take those. I had breast soreness, cramping for a few days after I would use it, and leg pain. So, I am now trying moisturizers. Sex is almost gone due to intense discomfort, but I would like for it to not be since I am married to a wonderful man.


Chloe Jeffreys August 3, 2013 at 10:50 am

Sherry, I’m not a big fan of Premarin. It’s is horse estrogen, not human. Estrace does work, BUT is messy.

I use the Vivelle Dot which is a bioidentical hormonal patch. Studies show that transdermal patches do not carry the same risks of clotting that oral estrogen does.

Vagifem is a tiny suppository that you place in the vagina at night before you go to sleep. It is not messy at all.

The best non-hormonal solution is a vaginal moisturizer. Vaginal moisturizers are NOT hormonal. One is called Replens. Replens has been shown in studies to relieve vaginal dryness as well as vaginal estrogen.

I hope you find some relief. Sex is a wonderful tension reliever to the symptoms of menopause. Finding a way to comfortably resume your sex life will have many health and mental health benefits. I hope you find a solution that works for you.


Diane Cantu June 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Just wanted know if it was safe to use coconut oil to insert in my vagina for dryness and if so how many days a week should i apply it.


Chloe Jeffreys July 1, 2013 at 7:20 am

Since coconut oil is a food product, it is safe to use as often as you’d like.


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Shanice March 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I have a problem but I don’t think it could i get cream get fix its vagina I to get any cream to help the situation?
I need help.can u please help it normal?
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Tracie October 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm

You won’t believe how I found this blog (was Googling for a photo of soup and saw your Virus-Killing Concoction), but of course I had to click on the “Vagina Whisperer” tab once I was here. This is very timely advice since I will be turning 49 next month and am definitely going through perimenopause already! I know perfectly well that a lack of natural lubricant is probably in my future (ugh), so learning more on this topic is valuable.

I do have a question, though: as a horse person, I have a bit of an issue with Premarin. Is there a synthetic estrogen cream that works as well? I am not totally adverse to taking an oral replacement (cancer doesn’t run in my family, thank God) but the cream thing sounds better so I’d love to get your opinion. Thanks!

*heads off to look around the rest of the blog*


Lisa October 10, 2012 at 4:59 am

I laughed at the pics so hard I cried. Verdant playground…bwahaha. Tucking this info away for when I hit 50 next year or whenever I need it. (Hopefully never).


Chloe Jeffreys October 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Hey, Lisa, Thanks for stopping by. It happens more quickly than you realize. I love my vaginal estrogen. I’m a big, big fan!


The Bearded Iris September 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Oh yes, we are destined to be friends, you Vagina Whisperer, you! In fact, I can’t believe we haven’t met yet! Some of my friends call me the Queen of Vagene. (And I like it.)

So, hello Chloe! So nice to meet you. Love your illustrations and ability to discuss important topics like this. I’ll be back!
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Hey!! I’ve been out of town and just got back to this. You and I are kindred spirits. I am soooo glad to meet you.
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Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs September 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Great info. Thank you. I *love* your illustrations. Now any time I think of (or consider) those “new sensation” products, I’ll surely imagine flames engulfing my vagina.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Lisa, you might have better luck than me, but I advise serious caution with these sorts of products. It is like sticking a piece of chewed Big Red into your delicate lady parts. Not fun.
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Brenda September 20, 2012 at 10:51 am

My estrogen cream is my secret weapon for those little abrasions that happen from vigorous sex but due to my suppressed immune system, don’t heal on their own.

Great post, Chloe.


Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Estrogen cream is most excellent. I swear by it.
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Julia September 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm

It’s so nice to see a dry *ahem* topic covered in a humorous manner! I really don’t understand why doctors don’t have a checklist for women having their annual visit — dryness, frequency, the big O, menstrual cycle regularity, blah blah blah. It would make things so much easier than guessing what needs to be told to the dr.

Oh, and I loved the illustrations, particularly the burning bush one!! LOL


Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I don’t understand it either. It is understandable why women are embarrassed to bring up these topics, but I think it is near negligence that doctors don’t feel more comfortable addressing common female concerns.

But then I’ve read some women complain and feel that their doctors were too nosy. So I guess doctors feel caught and unsure if their patient is open to talking about this or will become offended.


Barbara September 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Once you stop having sex you’re on the sure road to dead. Yes, yes, yes – in so many ways! Thanks for an informative post. I have coconut oil that I’ve been using on hands and feet – I’ll try it closer to my middle now – the closing my eyes and imaging the beach is an added bonus.
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm

If you aren’t having problems now then definitely start lubricating to ward off future problems.

I think sex is so important in so many ways. We should fight for our sex lives and be loathe to give them up.


Pamela September 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm

LOVE the illustrations. And the honest discourse.


Chloe September 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Hey Pamela. Thank you! I live for my art.


BigLittleWolf September 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm

“Sex is what you do when you aren’t dead.”

Damn. And I thought it was shoe shopping.


Fabulous post!
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Well, shopping too. And I’ve had some great shopping trips, but still. When my mother was dying in our house, my husband and I made love in the room across the hall. It was the most bittersweet and life-affirming thing we could have done. And since my mother’s very last written words were, “Oh, Glorious Sex. I’m glad I found you!” I knew she’d approve.


Molley Mills September 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Very helpful information. No problem in the using it area, we just buy the lube in bulk these days 🙂
Next topic libido ???
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Hey Molley,

Libido is a great topic! I definitely think we all need some advice on that from time to time since there’s no such thing as Viagra for women and I doubt there ever will be.


Ginger September 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Your illustrations are fantastic. You should do a children’s book.
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Thank you, Ginger. I’m not sure a children’s book on inflamed vaginas is in my future, but it would serve that 4th grade teacher, who told me I wasn’t an artist, right if one day my art was published in a book. I totally want to do that now.


Walker September 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Great post, I plan to post it on my blog as a reference-when I figure out where and how I want to do that. You offer the right blend of ‘light’ and informed. I’m not having this issue yet (age 58 and 3 yrs. past menopause), but like any woman there are dry times so I keep a bottle of lube nearby at all times. And, I practice regular sex…as often as I can!
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Hey Walker, nice to meet you.

Most of the articles I read on this for my research were as a dry as an old vagina. I hope that women can read this and feel there is both humor and hope for them.

Thanks for stopping by. If you find a place for it, that would be great.


Wendy September 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I experienced menopause at 35 because I had to have my ovaries removed (cancer related). So this body isn’t producing any estrogen and at first my doctors suggested coconut oil but I found it to be really irritating. I’m now using a vaginal estrogen cream that helps a little (honestly, I don’t use it that often because I’m worried about the slightest amount of estrogen entering my body). My biggest beef about menopause is that I simply don’t get “hot and bothered” anymore. Will I ever feel like having sex again? Le sigh.
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Wendy, I’ve been thinking about your comment all day.

I did some research and it seems Estring is your safest option. It is the vaginal estrogen treatment that results in the lowest circulating levels of estrogen. The libido thing? That’s a tough one. I did some looking up about testosterone, but see that it carries the same concerns that estrogen does. I promise I will think on your issue though and if I come up with any answers I will let you know.
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Julie Danis September 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm

My gyne didn’t blink an eye when I mentioned my post-menopausal parchness. She quickly wrote down the name of two lubricants and the name of the store to find them. I thanked her profusely at my next visit – or should I say, my husband sent his thanks. One good thing about “drying up” after menopause is that my hair doesn’t get as oily!

Love your illustrations.
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm

I think doctors are very good about helping women with these issues when the women brings it up. What doctors aren’t good about is bringing it up first.

I do like that my hair doesn’t get as oily and my face doesn’t break out anymore. Those are both big pluses to midlife.


audrey van petegem September 19, 2012 at 11:30 am

Great information. My husband will be happy to know that my vagina needs sex. We use an organic lubricant from the UK (yes, they ship to the states) from – I just love the name! In case anyone wants to know more about the company I wrote about it here;
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Husbands are generally happy to hear this information. I haven’t had too many men yet complain about that advice when I give it.

I am completely interested in this lubricant. For women who aren’t in need of the bigger guns, like moisturizers and estrogen replacement, lubricants can be a godsend.


mindy trotta September 19, 2012 at 9:56 am

Wonderful information. Love the illustrations. Every OB/GYN should have them laminated and keep them in their offices. (I am NOT kidding!) It just so happens I have an appt. tomorrow and I am going to mention this to my doctor. You are a treasure! (But I am not going to show this to my husband because he will definitely say, “Ya see, I told you we weren’t having enough sex!”)
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Please do mention it. I think doctors really should ask about things like this, but for some reason they don’t. When I started to really suffer from my vaginal prolapse I had to bring it up to the doctor. She never said a word until I mentioned I was having a problem. Then she said, “Oh, yeah, you have a prolapse.” What? Why wouldn’t she bring it up? I just figured if she noticed something she’d say to me. But doctors rarely do.
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Ann Dunnewold September 19, 2012 at 9:54 am

What great factual info. I appreciate your work in presenting this in such a clear way.


Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Thank you, Ann. Hopefully is was clear and serious enough while putting it in some perspective that this isn’t the end of the world and there are good treatments out there to help.


Maddie Kertay September 19, 2012 at 9:40 am

As a girl who has bought more than her fair share of lubricants (14+) and at some point become allergic to them call I am going to have to hump/jump to the defense of organic Coconut oil as my natural non-irritating lube of choice.

While indeed an oil it absorbs into the skin nicely, does not have a funky chemical scent and makes you think of the beach! What more could you want from a lube?

While not right for those using most types of condoms ( oil breaks down latex) for those looking for something a bit more natural, and a secret thrill while standing in the grocery store line.. coconut oil might be for you! 🙂
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 10:00 am

In defense of coconut oil, I have used it for normal sexual lubricant to good effect. After my vaginal surgery, I used coconut oil because there is some evidence that KY or Astroglide can cause scar tissue. And I like that when I close my eyes I feel like I’m having sex on the beach when I use it.

But for the treatment of vaginal atrophy due to menopause, coconut oil may not be effective or last long enough in between sexual encounters.
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Maddie Kertay September 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm

True enough.. I think of it as the first line of defense so that I don’t have to leave the game on a technical foul thus by staying in the games things have a chance to work on their own after a bit..but the honest truth is that since starting to have kids 23 years ago there has not been a time I have not needed or wanted to use some sort of lubricant .. it just makes things easier ( pardon the pun).. But if Atrophy is already in the house I think working your way through multiple treatment options is very worth while!
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Coconut oil has a lot of great qualities. If you ovaries are still working then it probably is sufficient. But once those puppies start to gasp their last, you might need to bring in the bigger guns.
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Kristi September 19, 2012 at 9:34 am

Ya know, this is an issue that even younger women need the FYI on. After our oldest was born, our doc told me my hormone “chaos” might cause dryness. I blew that off, assuming he just didn’t know my body like I did. *roll eyes* Painfully, I ended up buying our first tube of KY.

Oh, and THANK YOU for letting my know I’m not the only one who had a negative experience with those “enhancing” ones… one try and I couldn’t begin to understand why anyone would want to use the equivalent of vaginal icy hot!!


Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Kristi, I don’t understand their appeal. “Vaginal icy hot” really captures it. And if you have the delicate tissues that come from vaginal atrophy these chemicals can really hurt.

You are right, too, that other things besides menopause can cause vaginal dryness. Breastfeeding is one of those times. Or when my husband doesn’t pick up his socks and underwear. I don’t think there’s a cream or a gel for that last one though.


Kristi September 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm

LOL! Too true.


GrownandFlown September 19, 2012 at 9:19 am

How could you make something as depressing as this, funny, helpful and, well, just part of life? I am not prone to listen to bloggers on medical issues because I cannot be assured of their expertise but as I know your background, I find this very informative.
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I don’t know a lot about much, but about hoo ha’s I know more than a person should. I think I’ve seen more than Wilt Chamberlain, which is a strange thing to say, I suppose.


Susan in the Boonies September 19, 2012 at 9:13 am

Great info! Thanks, Chloe!
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm

You’re welcome! I try to be informative. Sometimes.


Sharon Greenthal (@sharongreenthal) September 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

I will keep having sex, I promise!
Sharon Greenthal (@sharongreenthal) recently posted..Aging as Youthfully as We CanMy Profile


Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Oh good. Then my work is done.


Shannon Bradley-Colleary September 19, 2012 at 8:29 am

I love your the way you meet this subject head-on (I was looking for a sexual metaphor but could cum up with one.) And I love your illustrations. Especially the burning bush. xo
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Chloe September 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I’m not picky, I take all cummers…comers.

That illustration was pulled from a real-life moment. I think it captures perfectly the emotions we both felt when my vagina caught fire. It was no fun.


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