Your estrogen takes a dive during menopause. Among other things, this causes your vaginal tissue to thin and shrink, along with a decrease in lubrication. This can make your vagina irritated and uncomfortable, and mean painful sex. It’s little wonder many menopausal women have a reduced sex drive.
There’s good news, ladies. Vaginal dryness is often easy to treat with lubricants and moisturisers. Or you can take the treatment up a notch with prescription medicine. The point is, there’s plenty you can do to help down there and we’re here to let you know your options.
You’re no doubt familiar with lubricants, even if you haven’t used them. These liquids and gels can be applied to your vagina or your partner’s penis before sex. Sounds clinical, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re about to have sex, keep the lubricant within reach and work it into your foreplay. The lubricant will reduce the friction associated with thin and dry vaginal tissue.
Lubricants offer immediate relief from vaginal dryness and may help to relieve pain during sex. However, because lubricants are not absorbed by the skin, they only provide short-term, temporary relief from symptoms.
Lubricants can be bought over the counter from supermarkets and pharmacies. You might need to experiment with different brands to find one that suits you best.
Vaginal moisturisers might help to make spontaneous sex more enjoyable without needing to reach for a lubricant
By now you probably have a bathroom cabinet stocked with moisturisers: face, body, feet, and hands. Well, it might be time to add another one to the collection: vaginal moisturiser. This is a cream that you apply to the inside of your vagina to keep it moist. Like lubricants, vaginal moisturisers can help to reduce painful friction during sex.
But unlike lubricants, vaginal moisturisers are absorbed and can cling to your vaginal lining where they act like natural vaginal secretions. They can be used regularly – not just before sex – to offer more long-term relief from symptoms of burning and dryness. Because they last up to four days, vaginal moisturisers might help to make spontaneous sex more enjoyable without needing to reach for a lubricant - although you might find it helpful to use a vaginal moisturiser and a lubricant.
You can buy vaginal moisturisers over the counter from pharmacies. Like personal lubricants, you might need to experiment with different brands to find one that suits you.
If you’re looking for a longer-term solution, chat to your doctor about prescription medicines.
One option is vaginal estrogen. These products provide a low dose of estrogen in the form of pills that you insert into your vagina, creams or vaginal rings.
Vaginal estrogen replaces some of the estrogen that is lost during menopause, helping reverse thinning and dryness of vaginal tissues. Vaginal estrogen products have been shown to restore vaginal blood flow and improve the thickness and elasticity of vaginal tissue in peri- and postmenopausal women.
Vaginal estrogen is available with a prescription from your doctor.
Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) can treat vaginal dryness, and other symptoms too like hot flushes and night sweats. It’s a prescription medicine that replaces the hormones that decline during menopause. Traditionally, this has been called hormone replacement therapy (or HRT), but it is increasingly becoming known as MHT.
Sounds appealing? Take our symptom checker and then visit your doctor, who can explain the benefits and risks of MHT and other treatments so you can make a decision that’s right for you.
Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd. Pfizer Medical Information: 1800 675 229. Level 15-18, 151 Clarence St, Sydney, NSW, 2000. PP-DUA-AUS-0126, 08/2019