Aromatherapy & Vaginal Dryness

A few women have asked recently about what they can do for vaginal dryness so I thought I would share my insights and a couple of recipes that work really well to address this issue.

Vaginal dryness and atrophy commonly occurs during the menopausal and postmenopausal years as a result of the reduction of estrogen. This reduction of estrogen may lead to: vaginal itching and irritation, dryness, increased susceptibility to vaginal infections (due to change in pH), painful intercourse, and decreased arousal. The one comment common to the women who asked was that intercourse/love making was becoming an issue due to it being painful. I hope the recipes provided are of service both for sexual intimacy as well as to support healthy, lubricated vaginal tissue.

According to Margi Flint, differential diagnosis should rule out other causes of vaginal bleeding, itching, irritation, including sexually transmitted infections, malignancy, Sjogren’s syndrome, or diabetes. A number of medications can lead to symptoms of vaginal dryness. Urethral dryness, atrophy, and irritation also can accompany vaginal atrophy and dryness.

The role of aromatherapy and essential oils is mainly to support tissue integrity, reduce irritation and inflammation, and to lubricate the vaginal tissue.

Herbal Oils To Consider

  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – one of my all time favorite plants! Calendula is soothing to vaginal tissue (and the skin in general), healing (vulnerary), and offers antimicrobial activity (potentially preventing infections). Calendula is also a great anti-inflammatory herbal oil.
  • Comfrey root and/or leaf (Symphytum officinale) – a wonderful herb that is moistening, healing and soothing to inflamed tissue. Due to its mucilaginous nature, comfrey is a great emollient as well.
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – anti-inflammatory and soothing to vaginal tissue
  • Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) – According to Margi Flint “red clover (leaf, stem and flower) contain phytoextrogenic isoflavones such as formononetin, biochanin A, daidzein, and genistein and has demonstrable phytoextrogenic activity that makes it an important heart to consider for menopausal complaints, including vaginal atrophy and dryness.
  • St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) – another beautiful herbal oil to work with. St. Johns wort is anti-inflammatory,  and tissue healing (vulnerary).
  • Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa) – a soothing herbal oil offering anti-inflammatory activity and possible estrogen-like activity (*insufficient evidence is available to support this activity), energetically has an affinity with the female reproductive system

Essential Oils To Consider

  • Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial
  • Cape chamomile (Eriocephalus punctulatus): anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, supports cellular regeneration, reduces itching
  • Frankincense (Boswellia carteri): soothing to mucus membranes
  • Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum): healing to the tissue, anti-inflammatory
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): soothing and anti-inflammatory. healing to tissue
  • Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara flos.: soothing, reduces stress/anxiety, supports healthy tissue regeneration
  • Rose (Rosa damascena): soothing and supports healthy tissue regeneration, strong affinity to the female reproductive system, reduces irritation

Lubricating Salve I

To make 4 ounces: (113 g)

  • 1/4 cup Calendula herbal oil
  • 1/8 cup St Johns wort herbal oil
  • 1/8 cup Comfrey leaf and/or root herbal oil
  • 1/2 ounce (14 g) beeswax
  • 10 drops of Neroli
  • 5 drops Roman chamomile
  • 10 drops Frankincense
  • 7 drops Lavender

Lubricating Salve II

To make 4 ounces:(113 g)

  • 1/4 cup Calendula herbal oil
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 ounce (14 g) beeswax
  • 10 drops Sandalwood
  • 12 drops Frankincense
  • 5 drops Rose

To make salves

  1. Using a double boiler or a large pyrex cup in a pan with approx. 1/4 water, melt beeswax.
  2. Just before beeswax is melted, add in olive oil (or other vegetable oil/s) and herbal oil/s.
  3. Once all melted and well combined (stir well!), remove top pot or pyrex cup from heat.
  4. Wipe bottom and sides so that it is completely dry. (you don’t want to get water into your salve!)
  5. Add in essential oils and then stir until well combined.
  6. Pour into 2 – 2ounce sterilized jars.
  7. Label jars with name, ingredients and date made. *Salves typically last up to 24 months but are best used within 6-8 months of making.

Lubricating and Healing Oil I

To make 4 ounces: (113 g)

  • 2 ounces (56.69 g) Calendula herbal oil
  • 1 ounce (28.34 g) Comfrey root and/or leaf herbal oil
  • 1 ounce (28.34 g) Lavender herbal oil
  • 14 drops Sandalwood or Frankincense
  • 6 drops Roman chamomile
  • 5 drops Rose

Lubricating and Healing Oil II

To make 4 ounces: (113 g)

2 ounces Calendula herbal oil
1 ounce (28.34 g) Red clover herbal oil
1 ounce (28.34 g) Wild Yam herbal oil
10 drops Cape chamomile
14 drops Lavender
8 drops Helichrysum

Vaginal Suppositories

What are vaginal suppositories?

Suppositories are commonly made from a combination of cocoa butter and another semifluid oil such as coconut or vegetable oil such as sesame oil.  Suppositories are typically indicated for vaginal infections and inflammation, vaginal dryness, cervical dysplasia, rectal fissures, and hemorrhoids. (Romm, A) I have used aromatic suppositories for the treatment of both hemorrhoids, bronchitis, vaginal irritation, and a rectal fissure with great success.  

The term suppository is derived from the Latin suppositorum, which means, “something placed beneath’. Pessary is an interchangeable term, referring specifically to a vaginal suppository.

How to make:

The ingredients you will need include:

  • 20 gms of Organic cocoa butter (about 1/4 cup) OR 10 gms Organic cocoa butter and 10 gms Organic coconut oil

  • 10mls Organic sesame oil OR infused herbal oil (e.g. Calendula, or a combination of other medicinal herbs)

***Prior to making the suppositories be sure to clean/sterilize all pots, measuring cups, bowl to weigh cocoa butter, and wooden spoon that will be used to make suppositories. And of course, wash your hands before making!

Steps to make suppositories:

Step 1: First thing to do is make your suppository molds. You can do this by wrapping aluminum foil around the handle of a ‘thin’ wooden spoon handle. Wrap about 4 or 5 times around then cut and press to make sure it holds together.  Remove foil from spoon handle and fold one end up a couple of times. Place mold in cup so it stands up. I ended up needing two moulds.  

Completing the mold:  Close off one end of mold by folding over twice

Step 2: Prepare your essential oils synergy so its ready once you melt the cocoa butter with the sesame.

Here is a wonderful and healing essential oil synergy for vaginal dryness.

  • 20 drops Rose essential oil (Rosa damascena)
  • 20 drops Sandalwood essential oil (Santalum album or other Santalum sp.)

Step 3:

In a double boiler, gently and slowly melt down all ingredients except essential oils. Once melted, immediately remove from heat. *Note: if cocoa butter is overheated or heated for too long, it will not be able to harden. 

Step 4: Add in essential oil synergy. Stir well.

Step 5: Pour into suppositories molds. Be sure to close top flap down.  

Step 6: Place in glass cup so that the molds are standing up. 

Step 7: Put in freezer to harden. (approx. 1 hour)

Step 8: Once the suppositories are hardened, remove from freezer and unwrap. Cut into approx. 1 inch long pieces. 

Step 9: The cut suppositories. Stored in glass container in freezer until used.

Step 10: Use 1x a day in the evening or 3-4 of hours before love making.

Resources:Article Courtesy of The School for Aromatic Studies

Flint, Margi. Vaginal Dryness and Atrophy. pg 512 – 516. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. by Dr. Aviva Romm.