Menopause can come with many changes, including your sexual health and vagina. Learn 7 things that may develop and what you can do about them.
Something we weren’t prepared for in our grade school health class was how our bodies might change during and after menopause.
“The change” really lives up to its name as there are numerous (and often uncomfortable) ways our bodies change.
During and after menopause, because of the lack of estrogen, the most intimate parts of our bodies may begin to change. Not all women will experience these vaginal changes, but many women do.
The changes are often lumped together and referred to as vaginal atrophy which can occur because of low levels of estrogen.
After menopause, the ovaries stop producing higher levels of estrogen which can cause many changes to the body.
Below, we will go over 7 vaginal changes that you might notice after you go through menopause.
63% of healthy women over the age of 60, experience at least one symptom of vaginal atrophy after menopause. In a 2013 study, researchers reported the prevalence of menopausal symptoms among postmenopausal women.
Here are a few things to know:
These vaginal atrophy symptoms can range from mild to very severe. It’s best to talk with your doctor about treatments to lessen the effects of vaginal atrophy. Here are 7 ways your vagina might change after menopause.
Because of a lack of estrogen, vaginal fluid secretions might become sparse. These fluids are what help to keep vaginal tissues plump, elastic and moist. After menopause, estrogen levels are often low so you might experience overall vaginal and vulvar dryness.
This dryness may become worse over time, so treatment is often recommended.
Read more: 6 Great Vaginal Dryness Treatments: Which Is Best For You
Normally, during intimate moments, natural arousal lubrication occurs. This is caused by an increase in vaginal blood flow.
After menopause, the blood flow to the vagina decreases, causing natural arousal lubrication and vaginal sensitivity to decrease as well. This can make intercourse less enjoyable (and at times, downright painful).
Prior to menopause, the vaginal lining is plump thanks to adequate levels of estrogen. After menopause, vaginal tissues can become thin because of low estrogen.
As we age, the facial skin loses structure and collagen -- the same thing can happen to vaginal tissues.
In general, vaginas are very elastic; they can easily expand and contract. This is made possible by the “vaginal rugae” which are small ridges in the vaginal tissue.
But because of vaginal tissue thinning, the vaginal rugae can disappear causing postmenopausal vaginal tissue to become inelastic. Vaginal shortening and narrowing can also occur.
Because the vaginal tissue is drier, thinner, and less elastic, it is also much more fragile. The friction caused by penetrative sex (and low vaginal lubrication) can cause micro-tears in vaginal tissues, which may cause spotting after sex.
This will certainly pump the brakes on intimate moments. This can result in women avoiding sex altogether. Painful intercourse is often what drives women to seek medical treatment.
Painful intercourse and bleeding after sex can be avoided with proper treatment.
Read more: Painful Sex After Menopause & How Ladies Are Overcoming It
Overall you might experience vaginal irritation after menopause. This can range from mild to severe. This irritation can feel like burning, soreness, tenderness, and itching.
Postmenopausal women are at a higher risk for vaginal infection. This is likely due to the change in vaginal pH; postmenopausal women tend to have a more alkaline vaginal pH.
Before menopause, the naturally acidic vaginal pH staved off bad bacteria. But because of the change of vaginal pH, bad bacteria can easily thrive, which increases vaginal infection risks.
Because of the vaginal micro-tears that can occur during sex, postmenopausal women are at a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections. The thinning of the vaginal walls is also associated with recurrent urinary tract infections and other urinary issues.
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