Vaginal dryness is a frequent symptom endured by almost one in three menopausal women. Vaginal dryness causes irritation, bleeding and painful intercourse. It can cause embarrassment and avoidance of sexual relations during a time when menopause has you feeling discordant and thrown off your normal course.
The hormone estrogen decreases during menopause and the physical changes your body is going through can cause lack of moisture in the vagina and a decrease in the natural lubrication during foreplay. As the vaginal walls thin and become less elastic, intercourse can cause burning and pain. You can try water-based lubricants and they may help to remove the discomfort you are feeling. There are also OTC vaginal moisturizers.
You may feel like avoiding lovemaking all together. If your spouse is also experiencing his own problems with erectile function, it can seem that sex is off limits and this can cause tension in your marriage.
The course of action you should take is to check first with your gynecologist. She will examine you for other possible causes first, just to rule out anything more serious. Then she might suggest alternative treatments, like HRT, oral hormone replacement treatments or MHT, menopausal hormone therapy such as an estrogen patch. These have proved very effective in returning your sex life to normal, but they are not without side effects. Make sure you go over the treatment options with your doctor before you start taking them.
If the hormone treatment is too strong for you, or you are not a good fit for it, you can take a vaginal estrogen cream, which has a lower dose of estrogen and will help your body make natural lubrication again. Another form of it is a vaginal estrogen ring inserted into the vagina where it can release a steady dose of estrogen. The ring itself is very flexible and soft and is replaced every three months. You can also take the vaginal estrogen tablet, it is a suppository you insert everyday for about three weeks and then you skip a week. Again, check with your gynecologist to see if these treatments may be right for you.
You can try some of these at home to help your symptoms:
- Avoid douching or taking bubble baths, both can lead to irritating vaginal dryness. Don’t use any of the new vaginal lubricants that are supposed to make your sensations increase. Most use peppermint oil, which is highly irritating in your sensitive areas, which is how they work and will only make matters worse.
- Do try extending the foreplay in your encounters and try to find a way to work around your problem, so that both of you are satisfied. Sometimes taking an adventurous role in lovemaking and keeping an open mind will help you through this time.
- Ask your gynecologist about other solutions she may recommend. She has seen this frequently in her practice and may have something you can use. Ask about alternate therapies and possible herbal supplements.