Celebrate Menopause Awareness Month – Save the Vaginas!

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Menopause is out to steal our vaginas! If we let hormones (or lack thereof) have their way, they will dry out our vaginas and send them packing for the desert — and I’m not talking about Las Vegas!

Save the vaginas!

Ladies, when it comes to the vagina, thin is out! Thinning and inflammation of the vaginal wall can impact many women during their menopausal journey. Vaginal atrophy (dry vagina) comes unannounced and uninvited. The big E (estrogen) is responsible for maintaining the structure of the vaginal wall, the elasticity of the tissues around the vagina, and production of vaginal fluid.

Basically, estrogen keeps our vaginas healthy and working as Mother Nature intended. So when you’re driving down the menopausal highway and your estrogen tank is low, your vagina — not to mention your intimate relationship with your partner, quality of life, and even self-image — can take a huge hit.

It doesn’t have to be that way! You can save your vagina from menopause’s grip! Here’s how to start taking back your vaginal health:

Spot the Symptoms

While many women’s perimenopause and menopause journey come tied with a bow of hot flashes and mood swings, vaginal atrophy often doesn’t begin until several years after the onset of menopause, worsening as the years go on.

The most common symptom of this vaginal thievery is dryness; when your estrogen levels decline, so can the moisture in your vagina. What’s more, that dryness often goes skipping hand-in-hand along with itching, burning, painful sex, and even bleeding during intercourse. But perhaps most surprisingly, a less-than-supple vagina can be linked to urgent or painful urination every time the faucet runs. Why? Because the urethra can atrophy right along with the vagina! That can even mean having frequent urinary tract infections all the cranberry in the world can’t keep away.

Communicate with Your Partner

Communication is the key to any healthy relationship, so don’t be embarrassed to be open and honest with your partner that you are having problems. The last thing your partner wants is for sex to be painful for you! Best of all, once you broach the subject, you can work together to regain your sex life.

Talk to Your Menopause Specialist

While a bottle of lube can provide a quick fix in the bedroom, vaginal atrophy is a chronic condition and requires ongoing treatment to remedy the underlying cause. So if you find that you are lubed to the max, but your vagina is still clammed up, you owe it to your vagina to seek a menopause expert and save your vagina! A menopause expert is trained in the ins and outs of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms—including vaginal dryness and painful sex—and is your best bet at achieving a happy vagina once more. Check out the menopause experts listed on the North American Menopause Society website, request a referral from any great doctor that you trust, or ask your friends to refer to a menopause specialist who has helped them find hormone happiness. An examination will allow an expert to pinpoint the problem and help you find the best solution for your individual needs. There are treatment options: systemic estrogen therapy, local estrogen therapy (LET), and over-the-counter moisturizers. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; every woman is different.  Some women need a combination of these.  Ask your menopause specialist about the treatment option that is best for you.

Treat Your Vagina Right
Menopause isn’t the only thing that can dry you out. Not getting enough blood (and the nutrients it carries) to your vagina can too. You ask, how does that happen? For one, cigarette smoking diminishes your blood circulation. This causes tissues, including those of the vagina, to not get enough blood flow or oxygen. This, in turn, contributes to vaginal atrophy. What’s more — and best of all — sex can actually help keep your vagina from atrophying. Sexual activity with a partner (or even a sex toy!) increases blood flow below the belt, making your tissues more elastic and healthier.

While as women, we often stay hush-hush about our vaginas, we should actually be speaking up for them every chance we get.  So come on, ladies, let’s keep our vaginas healthy and give them the care they need and deserve!

Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN! 

Download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

 

After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • Love the spirit in today’s post! Good stuff.

  • I’ve had just the problems you mention Ellen with urinary tract infections and bladder problems. My urologist believe it’s driven by low estrogen, and I’m on a cream to help. Love that you mention this in your post, because I had no clue there were quite so many factors affected by low E. Thanks for a great post!

    • So happy you found the help you needed! That is fantastic.

  • Lois Alter Mark

    Yes, save the vaginas! I think we should needlepoint those words and hang them on our walls!

  • sue

    I love your posts Ellen! I’ve mainly suffered with UTIs. Vaginal dryness can be sorted and I’ve been very fortunate to have an understanding partner so we can continue our loving and healthy sex life.

    • So happy t hear this, Sue. So many women are afraid to open up the conversation about this – even to their doctors! Yes, vaginal dryness can be remedied! No need to suffer with UTI’s or painful sex. LET (local estrogen therapy) can take care of these issues very quickly!

  • Every time I open one of your posts I wonder what I’m in for and today was no exception! It’s not a problem I have but it’s good to put it out there 🙂

    • My feeling is that so many women are suffering in silence for no reason. We HAVE to open up the conversation about these things!

  • Sheherazade

    Remember that for some people, it’s the testosterone that’s low (and I do mean for women). Estrogen cream gives my bladder hickups and shuts down any feel-good there. Try the vag balms in the health food store as well as DHEA or testosterone gel. Just a tiny, tiny bit.

    • Bladder hickups….interesting. That is a new one for me. Can you explain that more to me. Testosterone does not help with vaginal atrophy – it helps with low libido……vaginal atrophy causes painful sex due to a dry vagina from low estrogen. However, many women have both – a dry vagina and a low libido.

      • Sheherazade

        My urethra or bladder would spasm after a couple of light applications of Estrace–it felt like a jolt of acute urge, very uncomfortable. So I used a lighter estriol. After 3 light applications, I’d lose some orgasmability. But a tiny bit of DHEA cream helps. Remember that there are genetic variations among women.

        • This is very helpful….thanks for sharing what has worked for you. Many doctors, encourage their patients to add testosterone cream along with their local estrogen therapy. The testosterone helps libido/orgasm issues – the estrogen helps alleviate dry vagina.

  • In my former life as a pharmaceutical sales rep I sold a vaginal cream. I would put it on the top of my left hand to demonstrate it’s texture and look. My hand became very smooth and the skin more elastic than my right hand. Pure proof what it could do for the vagina! You crusade on Ellen!

    • Good to know, Haralee! And …..now the research and NAMS have agreed that it is safe for even cancer survivors.

  • Neena

    Great post! But it’s so hard to get my doctor to take my requests for estrogen seriously. She buys the over hyped hooey about the hormone replacement study and doesn’t want to prescribe even a tiny bit of hormones. Has anyone else experienced similar resistance to estrogen requests?

    • Neena, it might be time for you to find a new menopause specialist who is up on the latest information. Download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause. You can find some more helpful tips on how to find a menopause specialist in your area in Chapter 13!
      Good Luck and do not suffer needlessly!

      Here is the link: http://ellendolgen.com/menopause-book

  • Bonnie

    Great post Ellen! I have been struggling with UTI’s this year which are coupled with some unpleasant side affects. I finally went to a urologist and she has suggested that I go to a pelvic floor therapist to strengthen it and to have an ultrasound done as well. Interesting that someone else has had “bladder hiccups” and now I am wondering if its the Estrace cream my doctor gave me. The urologist also offered a new procedure that is a laser treatment for your vagina. She said they have had outstanding results however the treatments are $500 each and you need 4. You also need to keep up with a booster I think yearly or every 2 years. I am interested in hearing if anyone has heard of this or had this procedure done.