Have you ever noticed how many people treat the subject of menopause as taboo? Add to the mix simply writing down the word “Vagina” in my title and I can already see a few people squirming.
So where is a woman to go if she needs help if she is seeking advice on the changes that may be occurring in her body during menopause?
Many women do not know what to expect once they enter menopause. I have observed that women may openly announce having a hot flush over morning tea, or that their sleep patterns are disturbed due to night sweats, but I have never heard a woman openly discuss vaginal changes.
HERE IS A LIST OF VAGINAL CHANGES A WOMAN MAY EXPERIENCE IN THE MENOPAUSE
WHY ARE THESE CHANGES ARE OCCURRING.
The technical term for what is occurring is “Atrophic vaginitis”. As with other menopause symptoms, this is caused by a decrease in oestrogen levels.
It most commonly occurs after the menopause but a small percentage of women will suffer from some form of atrophic vaginitis during peri-menopause or at menopause.
The symptoms are due to a thinning of the vaginal lining and a reduction in blood flow to the vagina. When the levels of oestrogen fall in the menopause woman, the thickness of the vaginal wall decreases from as many as 30 cells deep to 10 cells deep, thus causing a thinning of the vaginal wall. The vaginal tissue thins and dries out becomes less elastic, more fragile and more susceptible to injury.
The acidity of the vagina also decreases, thus allowing more pathogenic bacteria to grow and hence making the woman prone to urinary tract infections and have a greater chance of developing chronic vaginal infections.
There is also a reduction in blood flow to the vagina and the vagina becomes less able to distend. It can also make sexual intercourse painful.
Dribbling occurs due to the sphincter muscle becoming weak.
WHO IS MORE AT RISK?
Women who have never given birth vaginally are more prone as opposed to those who delivered vaginally.
Smoking impairs blood circulation so smokers are more prone to vaginal atrophy as well as other conditions associated with tissue oxygenation. Smoking also reduces the effects of naturally occurring oestrogens in the body.
SIMPLE TIPS TO EASE THE SYMPTOMS
Before I delve into this section I need to stress that you discuss with your doctor what the main cause of your vaginal symptoms before any self-treatment. If for example, your main symptom is vaginal burning sensation with urination (usually an indication of an infection), then sexual activity will only exacerbate it.
Only a doctor, after a thorough examination, can determine if your symptoms are caused by decreased oestrogen, vaginal lining atrophy, an infection, irritant, or any other reason.
#Tip 1: Use a vaginal lubricant that is designed to be used to relieve friction during sex by coating the vaginal walls. It is important not to use Petroleum Jelly as it is not water-soluble and thus remains in the vagina where it can harbour yeast and other infection-producing microbes. It is important to note here also that vaginal lubricants tend to evaporate so you may need to reapply them during intercourse.
Lubrigyn Cream is excellent for alleviating vaginal dryness. Ingredients include Hyaluronic acid, which helps to hold in moisture and provide lubrication, sweet almond oil to allow for easy absorption, Vitamin A to protect the delicate vaginal mucosa, and calendula, which adds to the soothing properties of this cream.
It is used as a vaginal moisturizer and/or lubricant. As a moisturizer, apply to cleansed area two or three times a day, using five pumps from the dispenser.
# Tip 2: Allowing time to become sexually aroused can limit the pain that may be occurring during intercourse Lubrigyn cream can be used on the penis or vagina before intercourse. Be aware though that it is not compatible with natural rubber latex, polyisoprene and polyurethane condoms. As a lubricant, apply before intercourse.
#Tip 3: Loose cotton clothing and underwear improves air circulation in the genital area creating a less ideal environment for bacteria to grow and proliferate.
#Tip 4: A diet rich in whole grains and vegetables is highly recommended.
Knowing what is going on inside our bodies can allow women to cope better with the symptoms of menopause, particularly vaginal symptoms. Once you understand the mechanisms acceptance can be easier.
This website contains general medical information. The medical information is not advice and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on information from this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or any other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should first consult your doctor. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You must never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.
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