Menopause Mondays: Vaginal Dryness, Pain During Sex -Time for a Lube Job!
Is your sex life slip sliding……..away?
Would you rather clean your bathroom than go to bed? Have your afternoon delights turned into trips to the local ice cream shop? Has your sex life taken a nosedive?
When you are in perimenopause and menopause and your estrogen levels begin to drop, you may find that your vagina has suddenly moved to the desert and I don’t mean Vegas. It becomes dry (aka vaginal dryness), and sex hurts! No worries, help is on the way. You do not have to live the rest of your life without the big O. Orgasms are still in your future!
You may need a tune up! Yep a good old-fashioned lube job!
Share your sexual challenges with your partner so that he/she does not personalize these sexual challenges! Be sure you are going to a menopause specialist, so that you can talk this over with a doctor who understands your situation and is up on the latest information and treatments. Many women find that systemic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the best answer for them. Systemic hormone therapy (HT), which allow estrogen to circulate throughout the bloodstream and to all parts of the body. Available in many forms: a pill, injection, patch, gel, and spray. Others find that local estrogen therapy (LET) which is applied directly to vaginal tissues works magic for them. LET goes directly to the affected area, with minimal absorption of estrogen into the bloodstream. There are several different kinds of LET, including creams, a ring, and a tablet. Some women need a combination of treatments.
For those who would prefer not to use hormone replacement therapy (and even if you do), here is the wet and wild info on lubrication. Non-hormonal vaginal lubricants can help decrease friction and discomfort during intercourse. Vaginal moisturizers (similar to moisturizing your face – most women find these helpful to use every day – unlike a lubricant that is used only during intercourse) can help relieve dryness and rebalance the acidity of the vagina. Both lubricants and moisturizers provide temporary relief of symptoms but do not treat the underlying condition of vaginal atrophy.There are three basic categories of lube:
Water Based lubes can contain a number of plant based ingredients (in addition to water), such as aloe (aloe barbadensis), guar gum (Cyamopsis tetragonolobus), flax seed extract (Linum usitatissimum), and locust bean gum (Ceratonia siliqua). They are often combined with preservatives – some natural, such as tocopherols (vitamin E) and citric acid, and in other cases synthetic preservatives, such as potassium sorbate, parabens and propylene glycol. They can also contain glycerin, xylitol and phenoxyethanol. They tend to dry out much faster than oil or silicone base lubes and can become tacky (heaven knows we don’t want to wear anything tacky) and sticky. However, they clean up easily, do not stain the bed sheets and get along just fine with latex condoms and toys! Some new lubricants contain carrageenan (a seaweed product) which serves to moisturize the lubricant to minimize the tackiness or stickiness associated with water based lubes.
Oil Based lubricants, which cannot be used with latex condoms or latex toys, can either be pure natural oils, a mix of natural and petrochemical oil, or pure petrochemical oil. If condoms are required, either Polyurethane or Polyisprene condoms can be used. As natural oils, some people use Organic 100% Sweet Almond Oil (this contains oleic and linoleic essential fatty acids, which helps your muscles relax) or Organic 100% Virgin Coconut Oil (this can help prevent yeast and bladder infections) as a lubricant. Add a little balsamic vinegar, lettuce and maybe you can make a salad at the same time! These oils will not burn or inflame the vagina or the penis! Good to know. One night, my husband and I got carried away with some massage oil, which almost landed us in the ER! We were hot…burning hot…who knew that some massage oils were only for the back and arms!
Silicone Based lubricants are, well, you guessed it, silicone based. (I tried rubbing this stuff on my boobs, and no, it did not make them bigger.) Dimethicone (Polydimethysiloxane or PDMS) is the form of silicone used in the better silicone lubricants. It does not dry out as some water based lubricants do, has a thick lush feeling, and is generally considered to be non-toxic and non-irritating (this, of course, can depend on the individual user). It does cause damage to silicone toys (so don’t use it with your favorite silicone vibrator!), is difficult to wash off, and can stain bed sheets. If you live in a cold wintery climate with snow, as an added benefit, silicone based lube is great for putting on the bottom of a sled or toboggand and for fast downhill fun!
Test all the lubricants on your skin first for potential irritation. Try the inside of your elbow, or another spot where the skin is delicate.
I wish I could tell you chocolate syrup is the best product, but sadly it stains sheets, provides no lubrication at all, and looks horrible on your hips! Damn! Instead, truly natural products, either plant sourced water-based lubricants, or plant sourced oil-based lubricants are the healthiest to use, but pure dimethicone lube, or dimethicone mixed with water-based products may make you and your partner the happiest!
Don’t let your sex life slip away –with a little lube and/or hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and/or LET (Local Estrogen Therapy), and/ or a combo of all of these treatments, you and your partner can slip back IN, in no time!
I did a little survey with some of the sisterhood and here are the favs I heard about:
Gun Oil – comes water based and silicone based
Albolene Face Cream (I know, this one is a bit of a curveball, but hey if it’s safe and it works for you, go for it!)
What lube works for you?
Remember: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!!