Here’s How To Treat Vaginal Dryness — And Totally Change Your Sex Life
Wow, how many problems can one body part give you? Whether it’s thrush, bacterial vaginosis or UTIs, the vagina can be upset by a lot of things. Enter menopause, which comes rushing in with its hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats and possibly the most annoying and troubling issue – vaginal dryness.
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
After menopause, there’s a drop in oestrogen, the hormone that helps to keep vaginal tissue healthy by maintaining normal lubrication, elasticity and acidity. Before this, the vaginal walls are thick and lubricated, but after menopause, they become thinner and drier. This can lead to painful sex, vaginal comfort and frequent urination.
The bad news: While things like hot flushes and mood swings disappear over time, vaginal dryness and its symptoms can actually worsen. Like all vaginal problems, dryness can be very difficult to talk about. But over 50 percent of women experience it, so you’re not alone.
How Does Vaginal Dryness Affect Your Sex Life?
According to the 2016 SA Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy’s Impact On Sex and Relationships (CLOSER) survey, vaginal dryness has a negative effect on women’s sex lives, with two-thirds of women avoiding sex because of vaginal discomfort, and the remaining third reporting that sex was less satisfying, painful, or that they’d completely lost their sex drive.
For many of the women in the survey, vaginal discomfort had a negative effect on their self-esteem and feelings. Around 50 percent felt that their bodies didn’t ‘work’ as they did before, or that they’d lost their youth. One third felt that they were no longer sexually attractive since their vaginas had ‘changed’.
So, what can be done to treat vaginal dryness? The most common treatments involve replacing the oestrogen that was lost, helping to restore lubrication and reduce symptoms. About 21 percent of women in the survey used vaginal hormone therapy, and most said it had a positive impact on sexual relationships, their sex lives improved and couples had become closer and less isolated from each other.
Women also reported more confidence in themselves as sexual partners, felt ‘more of a woman’ and felt sexually attractive again. Although vaginal dryness can be treated by lubricants, it’s usually just a quick fix. Small doses of oestrogen are needed to treat the vaginal symptoms of menopause, and the effects can be long-lasting and offer quick relief. Oestrogen therapy is inserted directly into the vagina and comes in the form of tablets, creams or a ring.