The Menopause – Part 3: Let’s talk about vaginal dryness

Going through the menopause is rarely a walk in the park as we navigate many physiological changes that can be quite disruptive: one of them being vaginal dryness.

It goes without saying that: 

  • feeling sensitive and itchy “down below”, or
  • starting to dread sexual intercourses as that can be painful,                                                                                                                     does not help restore our self esteem or lift up our mood!                                                                                                                            However, we do not have to suffer in silence as this condition can be managed.

1 –  The cause of vaginal dryness

The reduced production of oestrogen during the perimenopause and post menopause might cause the lining of the vagina and the tissue of the vulva to become thinner, drier and less flexible and cause discomfort and inflammation. Less vaginal secretions results in less lubrication, hence the tissues are more fragile and prone to “injury”. Moreover, reduced oestrogen levels can trigger an increase in vaginal Ph and consequently a higher risk of infection. 

 

2 –  The common signs and symptoms of vaginal dryness

  • Redness of the vulva and the vagina
  • Dryness of the area, decreased lubrication
  • External and internal itchiness or a burning sensation
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Increased susceptibility to vaginal infection
  • Light bleeding because the vagina lining can be damaged more easily. Please go and see your GP in the case of bleeding as further investigation might be needed.
  • Malodorous discharges (can be caused by the increased alkalinity of the vagina). Again, go and see your GP as further investigation might be needed.

In any case, if any of these symptoms persists, please visit your health practitioner as it could be the sign of some other medical conditions. 

 

3 –  How to manage vaginal dryness

The conventional treatment for vaginal dryness is oestrogen therapy. Your GP, after checking there is no contraindication, might recommend a low dose vaginal oestrogen treatment ( cream, pessary or ring to be inserted in the vagina). Alternatively, your GP may  prescribe some DHEA hormone in the form of pessaries. 

 

There are also several alternative therapies that you can try before using oestrogen therapy.  They can be really effective:

  • Vaginal moisturisers as the name implies help relieve the dryness symptoms. You just need to apply the moisturiser every few days to keep the vagina moist.
  • Vaginal lubricants used before sexual intercourse help alleviate the pain. 
  • Low level light therapy or the use of specific lasers are also believed to increase vaginal lubrication. However, the evidence is limited, there are some contraindications and you should consult a health professional before resorting to these therapies.

 

A few more tips:

  • Use unperfumed soap to wash your vagina area.
  • Use only vaginal moisturisers and lubricants. They are made for this area!!
  • Stay hydrated (6-8 glasses of water per day) to aid vaginal lubrication
  • Eat food rich in Vitamin C (citrus, leafy greens, red pepper, broccoli, cabbage…) as Vitamin C  is needed for the synthesis of collagen and collagen has a major role in tissues and skin elasticity. Moreover, our production of collagen decreases with age and so it will also help you to keep a glowing and less wrinkled skin!
  • Eat food rich in Omega 3 (such as sardines, mackerels, salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts). Omega 3 helps maintain the health of our skin cells’ membrane and helps them to remain hydrated and flexible. 
  • Finally, be sexually active (with or without a partner)! Regular vaginal stimulation will help keeping the vaginal tissues moist. Moreover, lack of vaginal stimulation may cause the vagina to become shorter and narrower.   You know the saying: if you do not use it ……

And please, remember to check with your Health Practitioner if you want to start a new therapy or take some supplements, particularly if you take medication or have a health condition. 

If you wish to know more about how I can help with your menopause symptoms through diet and lifestyle recommendations, contact me to book a free 15 minutes phone conversation at: info@patriciadurand-nutrition.com

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