Graedons' Pharmacy: Hyaluronic acid combats vaginal dryness

March 25, 2014 

Q: After menopause, sex became painful and almost impossible. I tried Estring, an estrogen product you place up inside, but that caused a terrible yeast infection.

I tried all kinds of lubricants, but they lost their slipperiness before correcting the pain and dryness.

Then I tried hyaluronic acid. It's found in some topical products, but I take it in capsules. Hyaluronic acid is said to add moisture to skin and joints.

I intended just to lubricate my knee joints from within for easier skiing. What a wonderful surprise when the dryness "down there" started disappearing shortly after I began the capsules.

Now I have sex anytime I please, and the pain and dryness are so minimal that they aren't a problem anymore.

Hyaluronic acid is a bit expensive but so very worth it! My knees are doing well, too.

A: Hyaluronic acid is a natural compound found in the body's connective tissues and skin.

It has been used as an injection into joints and found to work as well as an oral NSAID similar to ibuprofen (Arthritis Research and Therapy online, Jan. 21, 2014).

In the UK, hyaluronic acid vaginal gel (Hyalofemme) is used to ease vaginal dryness.

A study comparing this gel to vaginal estrogen cream showed equal effectiveness (Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, December 2013).

We could find no evidence that oral hyaluronic acid would ease vaginal dryness, but your story is intriguing.

Q: I was diagnosed with psoriasis several years ago. My dermatologist prescribed a number of medications, including steroid creams, but I did not get much relief.

My doctor started talking about adding chemotherapy (methotrexate), and I balked at such a heavy-duty treatment.

I found an online forum of psoriasis patients. Some had tried topical glycerin and found it helpful.

I figured I had nothing to lose and was astonished to see how well it cleared my skin.

Why don't doctors know about this approach?

A: Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia have found that glycerin (glycerol) helps guide skin-cell maturation (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, December 2007).

This basic research may suggest a reason for the good results you have gotten.

Most doctors would not know about topical glycerin, as it has not been used in clinical trials yet.

Glycerin is a colorless, odorless, sweet-tasting inexpensive compound used in both topical and oral pharmaceutical preparations.

It is used in many skin preparations for its moisturizing and lubricating qualities.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their Web site: Their newest book is "Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them."

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