What causes vaginal irritation during & after menopause?

Vaginal irritation during and after menopause is caused by low estrogen hormone levels in the body. Usually, the walls of the vagina are shielded and lubricated by a thin layer of vaginal fluid. Estrogen helps to maintain the fluid protecting the vaginal walls, thereby keeping the vagina elastic, thick, and healthy.

But around age 51, a woman's body stops producing as much estrogen due to menopause, leading to insufficiency in estrogen to sustain the production and maintenance of vaginal fluid. Without estrogen to ensure enough vaginal fluid, the vagina and support tissues become less elastic and thinner.

This ultimately results in menopause vaginal dryness. It can interrupt a woman's life, affect her self-confidence, and reduce her sexual drive and satisfaction.

You don't have to go through it alone if you're experiencing vaginal dryness due to menopause. Keeping to yourself and not seeking medical help can cause the symptoms of vaginal dryness to worsen over time. Thanks to science, you've got help!

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Does Vaginal Dryness After Menopause Go Away?

Menopause vaginal dryness is treatable and does not have to be severe. More than half of menopausal women experience vaginal dryness, yet many feel too embarrassed to talk about it, even to their doctor.

There are several ways to remedy the situation.

Vaginal moisturizers: Long-lasting, hormone-free lotion applied regularly in the vagina and vulva to improve tissue elasticity and keep the vagina supple. These moisturizers are different from lubricants that are used only during sexual activity.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): This ingredient is usually administered as inserted into the vagina at night to ease painful intercourse due to menopause vaginal atrophy.

Ospemifene (Osphena): An orally administered SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator) used to treat painful sexual intercourse resulting from vaginal atrophy. But it's not approved for women with breast cancer or at high risk of developing cancer.

Vaginal Lubricants: Applied topically during sexual intercourse to ease the pain.

Estrogen Therapy: Sometimes doctors will prescribe a low-dose estrogen topical cream, ring, or suppository tablet that awakens the vaginal tissues. It has proven to be an effective treatment for menopause vaginal dryness. However, many women choose to forgo this therapy because of side effects. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Aside from medication, it could help if you made some lifestyle changes. Here are a few:

● Avoid deodorants, perfumes, and douches near or in your vaginal area.

● Use only dye-free and perfume-free soaps.

● Include lubricant in your sex toolbox.

● Avoid alcohol and stay hydrated.

While these lifestyle and medical treatments may seem simple, talk to your doctor about your symptoms first, just to rule out other possible conditions that can cause vaginal dryness.

What are Symptoms Associated With Vaginal Dryness?

Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause, but not all menopausal women experience it. Women who have menopause vaginal dryness could have some the following symptoms:

● Burning, itching, or irritation: You may feel itchy or a burning sensation in and around your vagina
● Reduced sex drive: You may not feel up to having sex when you recall the pain, causing reduced sexual intimacy.
● Bleeding after sex: The dry tissues become highly vulnerable to damage and irritation during sex
● Painful sexual intercourse: Cased as a result of friction and lack of sufficient lubrication during penetrative sex.

Other Reasons for Vaginal Irritation

Aside from menopause, vaginal dryness due to a drop in estrogen levels can also be caused by:

● Uterine fibroids or endometriosis treatments
● Chemotherapy and radiation from cancer treatment
● Childbirth and breastfeeding

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Ready to get relief from your menopause symptoms?