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”.
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.
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.