As a person ages, the vagina goes through changes. During the perimenopausal (before menopause) and postmenopausal (after menopause) stages, there may be noticeable changes in the vagina. In this article, we will discuss ways to maintain vaginal and vulvar comfort during these stages of life.
Your body during menopause
During menopause, the ovaries stop releasing eggs and the menstrual cycle ends. This typically occurs around the ages of 45 to 55, but can vary depending on genetics and other personal factors. The transition period leading up to menopause, known as perimenopause, is marked by irregular menstrual cycles and a decline in estrogen levels. Menopause causes a range of symptoms, including hot flashes, trouble sleeping, mood swings, weight gain, and changes in sex drive and bone density. Some people may also experience fatigue, depression, joint and muscle aches, headaches, a racing heart, vaginal dryness, vision changes, increased skin wrinkling, poor muscle strength, and bladder control issues.
Your vagina during menopause
Menopause causes a decline in estrogen levels, which can lead to a number of changes in the vagina, including thinning, drying, and loss of elasticity. This condition, known as atrophic vaginitis or vaginal atrophy, can cause symptoms such as vaginal soreness, itching, dryness, irritation, tightening or shortening of the vagina, urinary symptoms, vaginal discharge, chafing, burning, and inflammation. These symptoms can also lead to decreased sexual desire, pain and bleeding during sexual intercourse and an increased risk of urinary tract infections and yeast infections. Additionally, the vagina's pH levels become more alkaline, increasing the risk of UTIs. These vaginal changes can also contribute to changes in sex drive.
Common vaginal issues from menopause
Vaginal issues that occur during menopause are caused by a decline in estrogen levels, which can lead to various symptoms such as vaginal thrush, thinning of the vaginal lining, vaginal dryness, changes in vaginal fluid, pelvic pain, vaginitis, and vaginismus, which can include involuntary muscle contractions and pain during intercourse. These symptoms can result in discomfort, reduced libido and sex drive, and itching, burning, or irritation in the vagina.
Vulvar and vaginal discomfort
If you are experiencing discomfort during menopause due to vaginal dryness and atrophy, there are several treatment options available. These can include using vaginal lubricants and creams, emollient products like jojoba oil and coconut oil, and using topical estrogen cream. Topical estrogen therapy can come in the form of a vaginal ring, cream, tablet, or moisturizer and can be used to alleviate symptoms of vaginal dryness and atrophy.
Menopause brings about a lot of changes in the body, particularly in the vagina. As estrogen levels decrease, the vaginal lining can become thin, dry, and less elastic, leading to symptoms such as itching, burning, and pain during intercourse. These changes can also affect the vulva, making it shorter and leading to less pubic hair. However, there are various treatment options available such as lubricants, creams, and topical estrogen to alleviate these symptoms and improve comfort during menopause.