Painful sex during menopause: causes and treatments
Author: Jane Lewis
Jane Lewis, author of ‘Me & My Menopausal Vagina’ and a sufferer of vaginal atrophy discusses the sensitive issue of painful sex during menopause and how you can treat it.
Why does sex become painful during menopause?
The pelvic floor and vaginal area including the bladder are very oestrogen receptive. With declining oestrogen this can for some, have pretty dire effects on mental and physical well-being especially the urogenital area. The vaginal walls can become thinner and more fragile which can lead to bleeding during intercourse. (ALWAYS get checked out for any abnormal bleeding ). The vagina can become shorter and tighter, and the entrance to the vagina can become a particularly sensitive area, where even old episiotomies can split. You may also find you are much more prone to UTIs.
Relationships can, and do break down
If you are experiencing pain, you may not want any form of intimacy (understandably) and your partner can often feel rejected. If communication stops this can then become a vicious spiral and cause an atmosphere that can in some cases be the beginning of the end of the marriage or relationship. But equally some women do want to continue a sexual relationship with their partner and it is still possible to have a perfectly great sex life without penetration.
What can be done to help?
A good quality vaginal moisturiser or lube is essential. I personally like YES products and these are proved to be very vagina friendly. Local oestrogen is also a must have for many women which can really help plump up the vaginal and vulva tissues. Some women find systematic HRT along with local oestrogen also helps. There is a lot of trial and error required to find what works best for you.
Using vaginal dilators and small vibrators can help with keeping the vagina healthy and the ‘runway’ open as you will need to carry on having smear tests and pelvic examinations. Orgasms are very good for vaginal and mental health so whatever way you have one it doesn’t matter, whether that be with a partner, through the use of vibrators or going solo.
Perhaps just have date nights with your partner and see what happens but communicating with your partner is key.
Read Jane’s article: Vaginal atrophy – a menopause taboo?
About the Author
Jane Lewis is 52, married with three daughters and lives with her two dogs and husband in Northamptonshire. Jane was a florist but has had to give up her job due to her symptoms of vaginal atrophy. You can purchase a copy of Jane’s book ‘Me & My Menopausal Vagina‘ from Jane’s website www.mymenopausalvagina.co.uk or Amazon.