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!