Summer and sex
After a gloomy July, we’re all hoping for a sunny return to summer in August. We did at times wonder if we would have anything even resembling a Summer this year, as the COVID situation taught us to not take anything for granted. Like Sandy and Danny in Grease, many of us are hoping for some “Summer Lovin”. However, for menopausal women this can be a bit of a problem. Let’s see why.
Vaginal dryness is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. While it may be awkward to talk about it’s important to discuss it especially with your partner. Vaginal dryness, and in general vaginal symptoms, can make having sex very painful. In order to address the problem, you need some background about what causes it.
What is vaginal dryness?
Vaginal dryness can represent a problem for many postmenopausal women. Vaginal dryness is a hallmark sign of “the genitourinary syndrome of menopause”, also known as atrophic vaginitis or vaginal atrophy.
With this condition, vaginal tissues basically become thinner and therefore get more easily irritated. This is a result of the natural decline in your body’s oestrogen levels during menopause. It can bring a number of different symptoms, like itching, burning sensation, discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse. All of which which can decrease sexual pleasure, and put women off having sex at all, even for those women with a stable partner.
What can you do to treat vaginal dryness?
There are a number of treatments for vaginal dryness and painful intercourse (dyspareunia) associated with genitourinary syndrome, for example:
Vaginal moisturisers. You can apply it every few days to moisturise and keep vaginal tissues healthy. It is better to choose one with a more natural formulation in order to avoid the nasty chemicals sometimes hidden in some of these products. You can have a look at megsmenopause vaginal moisturisers which are all natural and vegan.
If you are suffering from dryness, you might benefit from using a proper intimate wash as vaginal pH changes over the years and you should use a wash that respects your pH. As with the vaginal moisturiser you can find a natural vegan wash in our range of products.
Vaginal lubricants. The best solution for painful intercourse is a vaginal lubricant. These can also help to spice up the situation. Don’t be afraid to use them with your partner and even more if you are having a one night stand. Men love it! You can find an oil based version (not suitable to be used with condoms) and a water based one on megsmenopause. Experiment with both maybe, to see which suits your body best!
HRT for vaginal dryness
As well as using moisturiser you can also have oestrogen treatment.
- A low-dose vaginal oestrogen cream, tablet or ring, may help by reinvigorating vaginal tissues. Even if you’re using already systemic hormone therapy pills or patches, your doctor might suggest giving you some extra help prescribing a low-dose vaginal oestrogen treatment. This can be of benefit especially if vaginal dryness and related symptoms persist even after you have started HRT therapy. If you’ve had breast cancer, talk with your doctor about the possible risks associated with vaginal oestrogen therapy.
- Ospemifene (Osphena), is a selective oestrogen receptor modulator (SERM) medication taken by mouth is used to treat painful intercourse associated with vaginal atrophy. This is another option. It should be noted, that this medication isn’t recommended for women who have had breast cancer or who are at high risk of breast cancer, so talk to your doctor before deciding to go for this type of treatment.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), in the form of a nightly vaginal suppository is a treatment that may ease painful intercourse in menopausal women.
Regular sexual activity or vaginal stimulation — with or without a partner — is also a great help in maintaining healthy vaginal tissues in women after menopause.
Are there any limitations?
Vaginal dryness should not stop you from going out and enjoying sex with whoever. As long as you are well lubricated (and into it), there are no limitations! If you are perimenopausal, it’s important to still use contraception as you are still at risk of pregnancy. If you are post-menopausal, it’s important to use condoms for STI prevention purposes.