Vaginal Dryness Improves with Sea Buckthorn
Vaginal dryness is a problem that affects more than half of postmenopausal women and many younger women as well. Sea buckthorn oil may provide effective relief.
More than half of postmenopausal women experience vaginal dryness, and you may be surprised at how many younger women are plagued by this problem as well. Now researchers report that a natural treatment approach to vaginal dryness may come in the form of sea buckthorn oil.
What is sea buckthorn?
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is native to Russia and China and is also found in northern Europe and Canada. This thorny shrub has orange berries, from which the oil is derived.
The berries of sea buckthorn are extremely high in vitamin C—about 15 times higher than found in oranges—and also are a great source of vitamin E, amino acids, flavonols, minerals, and beta-sitosterol. Along with the berries, the bark and leaves are used among traditional medicine practices for a variety of healing purposes.
Vaginal dryness study
The investigators were from the University of Turku and Aromtech, which makes sea buckthorn supplements and provided the product for this study. They enrolled 116 postmenopausal women who were experiencing vaginal dryness, burning, or itching in the double-blind, placebo-controlled study. A total of 98 women completed the three-month trial.
The women were given either 3 grams of sea buckthorn oil or a placebo oil daily for three months. Both before and after the treatment period, the women underwent the following measurements or tests:
- Vaginal pH
- Vaginal moisture
- Vaginal health
- Serum samples for liver enzymes, C-reactive protein, and lipids
By the end of the study, the women who had been treated with sea buckthorn showed significantly better improvement in the health of their vaginal epithelium when compared with women in the placebo group. The authors noted that the benefits could be associated with the vitamin E, carotenoids, and essential fatty acids found in sea buckthorn. These substances are known to nourish and support healthy function of the mucous membranes.
The researchers also concluded that sea buckthorn oil showed indications of being “a potential alternative for mucosal integrity for those women not able to use estrogen treatment for vaginal atrophy.” In fact, hormone replacement therapy carries an increased risk of stroke and breast cancer, risks that many women do not want to take.
Do you have vaginal dryness?
Although vaginal dryness is most common among older, postmenopausal women, it also affects about 17 percent of women ages 18 to 50. For postmenopausal women, vaginal dryness is the result of the dramatic decline in estrogen levels.
For women who have not experienced menopause, causes of vaginal dryness can include insufficient foreplay, stress, use of feminine sprays or soaps, use of some allergy and cold medications or antidepressants, and chemicals used in hot tubs and swimming pools. In either case, water-soluble lubricants can help alleviate vaginal dryness, as can vaginal moisturizers.
Now researchers have offered another treatment option for vaginal dryness. Use of sea buckthorn as an oral supplement has been shown to reduce vaginal dryness in postmenopausal women.
Larmo PS et al. Effects of sea buckthorn oil intake on vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Maturitas 2014 Jul. published online
Laumann EO et al. Sexual Dysfunction in the United States. Prevalence and Predictors. JAMA 1999; 281(6): 537-44