Vaginal dryness is another common and uncomfortable symptom of menopause. The texture of each woman’s vaginal lining may differ slightly, but overall it tends to maintain at least a slight moisture that encourages soft, pliable elasticity in the tissue. Losing this supple moistness can make the vagina itchy and irritated. What’s more, you may become more susceptible to vaginal infections.
The discomfort caused by dryness makes sexual intercourse difficult and painful—which perhaps explains the common misconception that menopause means the end of a woman’s sex life. Vaginal dryness can be not only physically uncomfortable, but also emotionally and psychologically distressing if left untreated.
Like abnormal periods, vaginal dryness is a direct result of fluctuating hormones—abnormal hormone levels disrupt the way the vaginal walls and blood vessels encourage the production of vaginal fluid. The change in moisture also influences the pH level of the vagina; where there was once acidity there will now be increased alkalinity, which is what makes women more susceptible to vaginal infections after menopause.
Thankfully, vaginal dryness doesn’t have to persist! Again, diet and exercise may alleviate the problem to some degree, as will learning to control stressors—particularly those caused by strained relationships. Soothing other aspects of psychological distress can help make the emotions associated with vaginal dryness easier to manage.
Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants can also make a difference. These won’t treat the cause, though. For that, your doctor may recommend vaginal estrogen, available as an oral hormone therapy replacement or as a cream or ring applied directly to the genitals. The risks of hormone therapy specifically made for the vagina are reported to be less than those that are used internally.
Did you know...
- Have you ever told your husband something and he promptly forgets it? It's not his fault, actually. It really is because he's a man. The hippocampus (the part of the brain that deals with memory) begins to shrink with age faster in men than it does in women. That's why you can remember everything, and he can't!
- Just saying the words "thank you" can measurably improve your mood. Researchers can actually measure happiness and changes in brain structure when people practiced regular "grateful thinking." This included things like writing thank you notes, writing gratitude journal entries, mindfully counting their blessings, and thanking friends. It may be helpful in overcoming depression!
- Need a quick cool down? Try drinking some hot liquid. It's true! As counterintuitive as it may seem, the heat from hot liquids will raise your body temperature. This will heat you up and cause you to sweat. The increased perspiration will wind up helping you feel cooler as it evaporates. Try it out!
- A hearty laugh is good for the heart. Laughing can increase blood flow by 20%. Additionally, looking on the bright side can help you live longer. Studies have shown that a more optimistic outlook is linked to a healthier heart, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk for coronary artery disease.
- There are many factors that contribute to your body odor, but one of the strongest links is our diet. This may be some bad news for meat-lovers because many studies have shown that those who refrained from or ate less red meat were judged as being more pleasant smelling. The meat sweats are real, and they don’t smell great!