I will be reviewing a number of common and easy to find over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers as part of a series on post-Hysterectomy care. Whether you want to supplement with, cannot use, or do not want to use hormone replacement therapy, there are many options a woman can try to deal with post-surgery sexual difficulties.
Carlson 'Key E' Vitamin E Suppositories can be used to ameliorate vaginal dryness. It's a effective vaginal moisturizer that is natural and safe to use. Never use something like a typical hand lotion for your vulva or vagina, the perfumes and other chemicals can actually make your dryness worse, give you acne on your vulva, or even give you a UTI, BV, or yeast infection. It's important to only use soaps and lotions and lubes that are appropriate for your lady bits, especially if you already know you have sensitive skin and/or are highly prone to infections.
These are small tapered suppositories in convenient, solid form that is easy to place inside the vagina to provide long-lasting moisture. They are 24 to a box. Since they are individually wrapped, they remain sterile, and are easy to carry with you or travel with. Even if they are exposed to heat and melt inside the package, they can be made solid again by placing in a fridge for a little while.
To use, detach one suppository from the box, carefully peel apart the foil from the top, and take the translucent white suppository out. Use your finger(s) to push it into your vagina as far up as you can, at least past the entrance (the tight grippy part). You should wash your hands before and after. If your dryness is particularly severe, to the point where you cannot get one finger inside, you may need to pre-lube the entrance to your vagina by rubbing the suppository around, or with another lube (like astroglide or wet, or even unflavored olive oil).
I recommend using Vitamin E suppositories right before you go to sleep. As soon as you place one into your vagina it's going to start melting with the heat of your body. If your vagina isn't level or elevated, it's going to run right out of your vagina and onto your underwear and down your legs. Of course, you can wear a pantyliner to help absorb spills if you like. But you want to try to keep as much as you can inside your vagina for as long as you can, so that it will be more effective and naturally absorb into your skin. And to be blunt, some will also come out when you fart or queef. No matter what, some is going to come back out, and your underwear may get stained. These suppositories are safe to use daily, or even multiple times a day, unlike some other vaginal moisturizers which can only be used a couple times a week.
Carlson's Vitamin E suppositories ingredients are hydrogenated coconut and palm oils and natural Vitamin E in the form of d-alpha tocopheryl acetate and mixed tocopherols. Vitamin E is a antioxidant. 'D-alpha' form of Vitamin E is better utilized in the human body and very common in beauty and health products as well as actual vitamin capsules for human consumption, and the 'acetate' part means it has been processed to withstand temperature extremes. 'Alpha' Vitamin E could have come from a number of different natural sources but most likely from soybeans (I don't know for sure though). Although the coconut and palm oils are hydrogenated, meaning they are trans fats, you are not eating them, just using it topically, so I do not believe you should be in danger of raising your 'bad fat' levels. Correct me if I'm wrong, more experienced and knowledgeable scientists or doctors out there. I would be happier if it were not in a hydrogenated form, but that is why the suppositories are shelf stable and "hard", it's one of the more common bases for suppositories.
Some people can be allergic to Vitamin E or Coconut Oil or Palm Oil, so if you have never used or consumed a product with Vitamin E or Coconut Oil or Palm Oil in it, you may want to test with a small amount first. I have not found the product irritating at all. If you think you are allergic, stop using this product.
These suppositories can be used rectally for rectal dryness or irritation as well. I have no experience with this usage. They are not marketed as a laxative, and I am not sure if they would have a laxative effect if used in the rectum.
You could use these Vitamin E suppositories as a sex lube, in fact Vitamin E is popular with sex workers for protecting themselves from irritation and damage. However, it may degrade a latex condom, so it would be better to try this as a lube only if you don't use condoms or if you are using non-latex condoms. In fact, if you are using this product daily and you use condoms, don't use the latex kind. Use a polyurethane condom like Trojan Supra and Okamoto Polyurethane (do not confuse with polyisoprene, like Lifestyles Skyn and Durex Avanti Bare which is also not safe with oil). Olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, any oil will cause condoms to break.
I don't believe this product is going to "fix" vaginal atrophy for women who are suffering from it, honestly I'm not sure there is a easy fix for most women, because it's a symptom of more complex hormonal issues, but I do think it is an effective daily or near-daily treatment for dryness. It's a great choice for women who don't wish to use any kind of hormone treatment at all since it's inexpensive and easy to source and more-or-less natural.
I tested this product for three weeks, every day at first and then every second or third day, which I think would reflect how someone would most likely actually use it. I always used it before going to sleep. I'm diabetic, and always have to get up to use the toilet 1-2 times during the night, but I would say that I was able to stay on my back 4-6 hours on average before, uh, losing a good chunk of the product. Longer would of course be better, but realistically I think that will be about average experience for most people. Basically what happens, is the suppository quickly turns into a thin liquid oil, with body temperature, and it takes hours to really absorb into the skin, and some is not going to, since it's a lot of oil. If you were really concerned about staining, you could experiment with only using half the suppository?
Before I used the Vitamin E suppositories, I was experiencing severe vaginal dryness - sorry to be blunt, but the inside of my vagina was downright "sandpaper-y" in places, seemed like a lot of dead skin was not being sloughed off properly, and even penetrating myself with one finger was difficult. When I tried to use a toy, it would get covered in dry, sticky, dead skin cells and not be able to move in smoothly. Lube was not really helping, no matter how much I applied. I was feeling kind of pinched and sore just sitting or walking. Sex would be impossible or excruciating. Even my vulva was oversensitized and delicate, and at times felt like it might crack from dryness, in places.
But even just three weeks of using the suppositories has helped a lot. Although I still feel more delicate and sensitive, and having some dryness issues, it is much better. My vagina is producing moisture more normally now, and it is comfortable to touch. I am still overly tight, but penetration is a lot easier. Lube is still necessary, but I feel like with longer vaginal moisturizer use, as well as gentle stretching to get used to it again, I would only need a little to be able to have comfortable penetration. It's a relief to know it is possible to get my vagina feeling pretty normal again. But I can tell, I would just have to keep using this forever.
Final Verdict - 3.5/5 - I don't think this has solved the underlying problems, but it's a decent vaginal moisturizer. It is inexpensive and pretty easy to purchase. I am a bit nervous about long-term use of a hydrogenated oils product. It just targets the inside of my vagina, so it doesn't totally help dryness on my labia and vulva. I would like to find a product I can safely use on those parts that won't stain my underwear or feel greasy.
Carlson Key E Suppositories can easily be purchased all over the internet and in pharmacies, from around $6-10 (making it around 25 cents per use at the cheapest end, which is frankly a great price for a commercial vaginal moisturizer). I particularly recommend iherb.com, which currently offers free shipping at only $20, generous VIP volume discounts as a returning customer, and great customer service. They also have very competitive prices to begin with, even not counting any extra discounts - compare your current vitamin and other health product prices with theirs. If you're a new iherb customer, use coupon code SAD413 for $10 off a $40 order or $5 off any order.
Even though I do think these are great for ease and convenience, you can also consider alternate forms of Vitamin E, like just using a sterile pin to poke a Vitamin E pill and then placing inside the vagina to melt, or getting a non-sharp medicine syringe (like the kind you use to give liquid medicine to a child) to use with a bottle of Vitamin E oil. You can visit your local compounding pharmacy and ask them if they can make you a similar product to your specifications. They may be able to put Vitamin E into a different base, like aloe. Additionally, taking Vitamin E pills orally will improve your skin hydration for your entire body.
I will be reviewing Luvena Vaginal Moisturizer next! Watch out for my review mid-October. We'll see if that product is any better. But if you're suffering from severe vaginal dryness, don't suffer any longer, give this product a try.
Disclaimer: I have purchased this product myself. My opinions are my own. I have no affiliation with, and do not speak for Carlson Labs. If you use my iherb affiliate link, I will receive a small amount of iherb credit in return, so if you find that offensive, you probably shouldn't use it.