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Dryness

Vaginal Dryness

For many women, menopause can feel like a loss of femininity, especially when you experience unfamiliar dryness and discomfort in your intimate area. In addition to daily discomfort such as itch and irritation, vaginal dryness can make sex painful. Although it’s not often talked about, vaginal dryness is a very common and addressable “peri-problem”.

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Why It Happens?

Estrogen is involved in producing vaginal secretions as lubricants for sex and in keeping the vaginal tissue strong, elastic, and healthy. Because your body produces less estrogen during peri-menopause, you’ll begin to experience some level of vaginal dryness. This can impact both your day-to-day comfort and your level of physical comfort during sex. Skin in the vulvar, vaginal, and urinary tracts have quite a few estrogen receptors, so decreased estrogen levels affect these tissues more than other tissues in the body.

As estrogen levels continue to decrease, your vaginal epithelial tissue thins and is more easily irritated, and the risk of urinary tract infection increases. The pH level of your vagina also increases and the vaginal microbiome changes.

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A Shared Journey

Some of us might find these challenges embarrassing, but you may be surprised to know just how commonly vaginal dryness issues arise for women in peri-menopause and post-menopause; more than half of women will experience vaginal dryness during peri- and post-menopause, yet it’s not commonly discussed. If you’re comfortable, you can talk to friends about how they manage similar menopause-related challenges, or talk to your doctor. Just remember, you’re not alone! Together we can find solutions for a healthy and pain-free life after menopause.

Citations

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Avis, Nancy E., Sybil L. Crawford, Gail Greendale, Joyce T. Bromberger, Susan A. Everson-Rose, Ellen B. Gold, Rachel Hess, Hadine Joffe, Howard M. Kravitz, Ping G. Tepper, and Rebecca C. Thurston. "Duration of Menopausal Vasomotor Symptoms Over the Menopause Transition." JAMA Internal Medicine175.4 (2015): 531-39. Print.

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Prairie, Beth A., MD, MPH, Stephen R. Wisniewski, PhD, James Luther, MA, Rachel Hess, MD, MS, Rebecca C. Thurston, PhD, Katherine L. Wisner, MD, MS, and Joyce T. Bromberger, PhD. "Symptoms of Depressed Mood, Disturbed Sleep, and Sexual Problems in Midlife Women: Cross-Sectional Data from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation." Journal of Women's Health 24.2 (2015): 119-26. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

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UHN Staff. "Symptoms of Perimenopause -What Are They and How to Manage Them with Natural Perimenopause Treatment." University Health News. University Health News, 02 Apr. 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2017. http://universityhealthnews.com/daily/aging-independence/symptoms-of-perimenopause-what-are-they-and-how-to-manage-them-with-natural-perimenopause-treatment/.

Avis, Nancy E., Sybil L. Crawford, Gail Greendale, Joyce T. Bromberger, Susan A. Everson-Rose,Ellen B. Gold, Rachel Hess, Hadine Joffe, Howard M. Kravitz, Ping G. Tepper, and Rebecca C. Thurston. "Duration of Menopausal Vasomotor Symptoms Over the Menopause Transition." JAMA Internal Medicine175.4 (2015): 531-39. Print.

Laven, Joop. "Genetics of Early and Normal Menopause." Seminars in Reproductive Medicine 33.06 (2015): 377-83. PubMed.gov. Web. 13 Mar. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26569518.

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Deliveliotou, Aikaterini, and George Creatsas. "Changes in the Vulva and Vagina Throughout Life." The Vulva (2006): 36-37. Print.

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Avis, Nancy E., Sybil L. Crawford, Gail Greendale, Joyce T. Bromberger, Susan A. Everson-Rose, Ellen B. Gold, Rachel Hess, Hadine Joffe, Howard M. Kravitz, Ping G. Tepper, and Rebecca C. Thurston. "Duration of Menopausal Vasomotor Symptoms Over the Menopause Transition." JAMA Internal Medicine175.4 (2015): 531-39. Print.