Hyaluronic acid and elastin, the dynamic duo.
By Dr. Michael Krychman
Considerable research indicates that the scope of vaginal dryness has become staggering, almost epidemic. Millions of women, young and not so young, suffer from irritating vaginal dryness and burning. With these symptoms, intercourse also becomes painful. Vaginal dehydration results from changes within the vaginal flora or eco system, estrogenic depletion from the transition into menopause, and as a medication side effect.
Minimally absorbed local hormones have been the predominant treatment for vaginal issues, however many women are beginning to opt out of prescription medications for a variety of health concerns. They may fear abnormal bleeding, cardiovascular and breast health complication. As a result, products with hyaluronic acid and elastin offer a safe, effective and clinically proven alternative to help replenish the vaginal mucosa or lining. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan found throughout the body, including in the connective, epithelial, and neural tissues. It can also be found in the fluids in the eyes and joints.
Hyaluronic acid has been known to have medicinal properties for many maladies, including joint disease. It can be taken in the form of a pill or injected into the body. In gel form, it has been known to help heal mouth ulcerations as well.
A virtual wonder drug, hyaluronic acid is FDA-approved for use for a range of surgical procedures including (but not limited to) cataract surgery, corneal transplantation and for detached retina surgery. It has also been used effectively in the cosmetic industry as a lip filler (Juvederm®) and has been shown to decrease smile and frown lines in both men and women. Hyaluronic acid is thought to help reverse the natural aging process of skin.
But one of its best-known uses is as a skin moisturizer, as it promotes healthy tissues. In fact, hyaluronic acid is thought to be instrumental in the healing process for minor skin injuries including burns, scrapes and ulcers.
With such research behind it, hyaluronic acid is now used in vaginal gels as a soothing and restorative agent to treat vaginal dryness. Non-hormonal, it been has shown to effectively treat vaginal itchiness, dyspareunia (painful intercourse) and vaginal burning. It does not alter the delicate vaginal microbiological environment.
For women approaching or experiencing menopause, there’s more good news: hyaluronic acid is recognized as an alternative to minimally absorbed local vaginal estrogen products. In addition to its hydrating and lubricating properties, it may also help improve vaginal secretions and elasticity with no endometrial effects.
Elastin is also found in the connective tissues of our bodies, helping to promote elasticity. It allows for body parts and tissues to stretch and then return to their original form after movement. Unfortunately, elastin content in tissues may decline with time, causing tissues to become less pliable and supple with age.
But here’s the thing— hyaluronic acid and elastin make a perfect combination for a vaginal moisturizing product. They work in concert with each other to help soothe and relieve vaginal dryness and irritation.
Each with its own unique properties can help restore and revive the vaginal lining or mucosa. Hyaluronic acid can hydrate whereas elastin provides elasticity and pliability. The combination has an excellent tolerability and safety profile. Both are non-hormonal and have not be associated with abnormal vaginal spotting or bleeding or other adverse effects.
Use in vaginal lubricants and feminine hygiene products
When selecting a vaginal lubricant or feminine hygiene product, look for hyaluronic acid and elastin in the ingredients, evenif the product costs a bit more. This will assure an increased chance of vaginal hydration and elasticity. I particularly recommend the Lubrigyn line of feminine care products for this reason.