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A guide to topical options for easing vulvar discomfort.

LAS VEGAS--For postmenopausal women who don't want a hormonal topical treatment, there are plenty of other nonhormonal options to ease the symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy, according to Susan Kellogg Spadt, Ph.D.

Dr. Kellogg Spadt, a certified sexual counselor and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Drexel University Philadelphia, said many of these topical products are available over the counter.

Lubricants--a good first-line choice to decrease pain and increase pleasure during intercourse--are primarily designed to minimize friction and irritation around the clitoral area, the labia, and the introitus and vagina. They are meant to be applied immediately before sex play, on an as-needed basis. Dr. Kellogg Spadt said at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society.

"The take-home message: Apply to both partner's genitals," she said.

However, some of these products have been associated with significant contact dermatitis, often because of additives such as camphor or menthol that are intended to provide a warming or tingling sensation. When women experience contact dermatitis from these or other causes in the vulvovaginal region. Dr. Kellogg Spadt said, clinicians should recommend that they avoid overzealous hygiene and treat the tissues gently. They can use a neutral emollient such as Aquaphor and use sleep aids or antihistamines for sedation and comfort at night as needed for a few days.

Lubricants are hyperosmotic, hypo-osmotic, or iso-osmotic. Hypo-osmotic lubricants such as FemGlide and Slippery Stuff can reduce mucus production. Hyperosmotic lubricants such as Replens lubricant, KY, and Astroglide can be irritating for some users, though some of these products have devoted long-time users who have never had difficulty, said Dr. Kellogg Spadt. Pre-seed is an iso-osmotic lubricant designed especially for couples who are trying to conceive.

Vaginal moisturizers have a different mode of action. These products Continued on following page use bioadhesive polymers that attach to mucin and the epithelial cells on the vaginal wall. These products can carry up to 60 times their weight in water, and will leave the water in place on the vulvovaginal epithelial surface until the product is eventually sloughed off, Dr. Kellogg Spadt said.

Vaginal moisturizers are meant to be used regularly--not necessarily every day, but at least two or three times weekly. They do not need reapplication before intercourse. Though studies on the efficacy of these products have generally been lacking, Replens is a vaginal moisturizer that, in one study, was found to improve vulvovaginal health with findings of normalized vaginal cytology and a return to premenopausal vaginal pH (Fertil Steril. 1994 Jan;61[1]:178-80.).

These changes in the vaginal environment, said Dr. Kellogg Spadt, won't treat yeast or bacterial vaginal infections, but they may help prevent recurrent infections.

Some vaginal moisturizers use hyaluronic acid, and one in particular, Hyalogyn, is 100% hyaluronic acid. This product has been found to be as efficacious as local estrogen in a randomized clinical trial (J Sex Med. 2013 Jun;10[6]:1575-84).

Juvagyn is a hybrid lubricant-moisturizer with hyaluronic acid that can be applied with a fingertip. This allows more selective application to the external structures, where much of the discomfort of intercourse can occur. Dr. Kellogg Spadt said. Most other products use an intravaginal applicator to deliver a premeasured amount.

Another option is Neogyn, which is marketed as an external vulvar soothing cream and is also meant to be applied to the introitus and external vulvar tissue.

It has been shown to reduce vulvar pain significantly, she said.

For patients who still have pain despite these measures and desire to have intercourse, over-the-counter lidocaine gel can be used. Patients should be warned that the lidocaine--1% topical gel is available over the counter--will burn on application before numbing. It should be washed off after intercourse, she said.

Dr. Kellogg Stadt reported being a consultant or on the advisory board of Nuelle and of Neogyn, which also markets Juvagyn. She is also on the speakers bureau of Novo Nordisk and Shionogi.

BY KARI OAKES

EXPERT ANALYSIS FROM THE NAMS 2015 ANNUAL MEETING

koakes@frontlinemedcom.com On Twitter @karioakes

Caption: DR. KELLOGG SPADT
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Title Annotation:WOMEN'S HEALTH
Author:Oakes, Kari
Publication:Family Practice News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2015
Words:672
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