Sex and Menopause – What's Menopause Got To Do With It?

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 26, 2010

Absolutely nothing! Menopause does not mean the end of your sex life. And there is no reason that women should not enjoy sexual relations after menopause.

Consider these numbers:

In the US there are approximately 42 million women over age 50.  By the year 2020, the number of US women estimated to be over 55 years of age will be 45.9 million. Women are also living longer. The average life expectancy for women today is 79 years. In addition, a woman who reaches 54 can expect to live to be 84, so most women can plan to live one third of their lives after menopause.

As a result, women are not merely concerned about longevity, but also with issues that affect and relate to their quality of life. And, sex is a very important part of most women’s well-being. Women who want to preserve and enhance their sexuality in their 50’s and older, can manage the sexual changes which are triggered by menopause.

In this issue of “The Menopause Minute®”, we will discuss what lower estrogen means to your vagina. Vaginal changes that accompany menopause, particularly if they make you feel uncomfortable or make sex unappealing, should be discussed with your physician. This should not be an embarrassing subject. Healthcare providers are supposed to ask you questions about vaginal matters, and if, he or she, does not bring it up, you need to address the topic.

Vaginal Dryness

There are physical changes that are due to menopause. One of the most common factors affecting sexuality is vaginal dryness which may affect 80% of women at one time or another. At around the time of menopause, changes occur in the urogenital area. Dryness of the vagina results because of a decrease in estrogen levels during menopause and beyond. In addition, the vaginal walls become thin and dry. The vagina becomes smaller and intercourse can feel painful. Many women report that regular sexual activity helps reduce vaginal soreness through lovemaking with a partner, or through masturbation. Typical symptoms which may occur include vaginal dryness, burning, itching, painful intercourse, as well as urinary urgency and involuntary leakage when laughing, sneezing, or even exercising. Vaginal dryness is a major menopausal symptom and major reason women seek treatment.

Treatment/Solution

Prescription estrogen therapies such as pills, patches and a gel soon to be marketed, provide additional estrogen to the body. The estrogen creams or vaginal ring provide estrogen locally to the vagina. For day-to-day relief of vaginal dryness, Replens Long-Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer is a patented, estrogen-free formula that is available over-the-counter for immediate and long-lasting relief. Lubricants, such as Replens Intimate,can be used for the extra lubrication needed during intimacy. In fact, many couples use lubricants during foreplay and waiting until the woman is fully aroused before penetration.

Avoid antihistamines and decongestants as they not only dry nasal membranes; they also have a drying effect on the vagina. Talk to your healthcare provider about other prescribed medications you may be taking. Certain medications like antidepressants, diuretics, cardiovascular medications, and other medications may also be the cause for vaginal dryness.

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