Vaginal dryness, also called vaginal atrophy (what a demeaning term...) is very common.
However, only 10–20% of women suffering from vaginal dryness seek medical treatment for a variety of reasons, most commonly the fear of estrogen-related side effects (Barbaglia et al., 2009).
It can occur at any age, although rates are significantly higher for postmenopausal women (50%) and women treated for breast cancer (63%).
In this article, we will take a look at causes and natural solutions with acupuncture and Chinese medicine for vaginal dryness.
What causes vaginal dryness?
Premenopausal women: hormonal contraceptives, postpartum/breastfeeding
Peri- and postmenopausal women: menopausal decline in estrogen production
Anticholinergic or chemotherapeutic medications
metabolic and inflammatory conditions
unwise health behaviors and substance abuse
Western medicine's approach: Hormones
Since the natural decline in estrogen is the main culprit causing peri-menopause-like symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats and dryness, western medicine chooses to supplement the deficient estrogen with Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or
Estrogen topicals (also a hormone). HRT comes with a long list of side effects such as:
bloating & indigestion
breast tenderness or swelling, swelling in other parts of the body
If you are concerned about these, know that there are more natural solutions out there, including Chinese medicine.
Chinese medicine & acupuncture
Chinese herbs significantly alleviate menopause-related vulvo-vaginal atrophy, with no adverse effects on the endometrium, breast, liver, and kidney functions. 
Tian Men Dong 天门冬, also known as Shatavari root or Chinese wild asparagus is used to increase vaginal secretions.
Ge Gen 葛根, also known as Kudzu. In a study of 71 healthy postmenopausal women, researchers found taking the herb kudzu in capsule form daily for 24 weeks helped alleviate vaginal dryness and restore the health of the participants' vaginal tissue.
Sheng Ma 升麻, Black cohosh, taken by mouth or topically as a cream, may be useful for treating vaginal dryness. Black cohosh pessaries or vaginal cream are available only from naturopaths.
Precautions: black cohosh should be taken only for as long as your symptoms persist. It is generally well tolerated, although can cause headaches in some women.
Black cohosh is often used in early menopause brought on by cancer treatments, especially breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer. Of all the herbs, black cohosh has the most research about its safety in support of its use.
It appears to be safe in breast cancer patients, although further research is needed. Women with breast cancer or other hormone-dependent tumors should always talk to their doctor before taking black cohosh.
While acupuncture treatment has been shown to reduce the vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause, aka hot flashes (see our article here) (Sunay et al., 2011), the treatment of postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis usually involves herbal medicine (Jin, 1998). However, acupuncture combined with herbal medicine would likely provide the best option.
Zhen Rong Dan: A study recently found that this formula could obviously relieve the endocrine disorders, modulate vaginal atrophy, and increase the thickness of the vaginal wall.
Foods and supplements for dryness relief
Stay away from inflammatory foods such as processed sugar and alcohol. Inflammation increases dryness throughout the body, including down there.
Linseeds (flax seeds) have been shown to reduce vaginal dryness by a mildly estrogenic action of 'plumping up' the vaginal cells.
tremella mushrooms, aka silver ear mushrooms (read article here)
avocados can enhance lubrication and estrogen levels & strengthen vaginal walls
No matter where you are in your
women's health, fertility, pregnancy & mothering journey,
if you need support, we can help.
In addition to our own team of fertility & women's health acupuncturists, we are well-connected within the Los Angeles- Pasadena area community to help you
find the right integrative and holistic care for you.
If you have more questions please call our front desk, at 626-841-2991, or email us.
 Chen, Ranran et al. “Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Modified Erzhi Granules in the Treatment of Menopause-Related Vulvovaginal Atrophy.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2018 6452709. 14 Oct. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/6452709
 Manonai J, Chittacharoen A, Theppisai U, Theppisai H. Effect of Pueraria mirifica on vaginal health. Menopause. 2007;14(5):919–924. doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e3180399486
Xuan Zhang, Qian Chen, Bo Chen, Fangqin Wang, Xiao-Hong Chen,"Herb Formula ZhenRongDan Balances Sex Hormones, Modulates Organ Atrophy, and Restores ER and ER Expressions in Ovariectomized Rats",Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine,vol. 2018,Article ID 5896398,10pages,2018.https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/5896398