Symptoms of vaginal dryness can include painful intercourse, itching or burning, vaginal discomfort, and frequent urination…
It’s not easy to talk about, but it’s totally normal, and more common than you think. It is estimated that 50 percent of women experience symptoms of a dry vagina after menopause – so you’re not alone. The hot flushes and night sweats of menopause resolve over time, but the symptoms associated with vaginal dryness may get worse and frequently require treatment. Local oestrogen therapy is available as vaginal tablets, or vaginal cream.
Vaginal discomfort after menopause occurs because the ovaries no longer produce enough oestrogen, the hormone responsible for maintaining the vaginal wall. Before menopause the vaginal wall is thick and moist. After menopause, as oestrogen levels decline, it becomes thinner and dry. The blood flow to the vaginal tissue decreases, and the vagina secretes less fluid during s*x. The dry vagina is more prone to small injuries and infection.
Why you need to seek help
Local oestrogen can be an effective and logical treatment option for vaginal dryness. This is because only small doses of oestrogen are needed to treat the vaginal symptoms of menopause. The vaginal response to local oestrogen therapy can be quick and long-lasting, if used as indicated.1,4
Vaginal tablets are inserted every day for two weeks; thereafter twice weekly insertions are enough to maintain vaginal health. They deliver an exact dose, are also easy to use, clean and virtually leak free.
The Clarifying vaginal atrophy’s impact On Sex and Relationships(CLOSER) survey was conducted in South Africa in 2016. It is the first survey of its kind to be carried out in this country.
Vaginal tablets are inserted every day for two weeks; thereafter twice weekly insertions are enough to maintain vaginal health.
Vaginal tablets are inserted every day for two weeks; thereafter twice weekly insertions are enough to maintain vaginal health.The survey found that vaginal dryness had a negative effect on s*x and relationships. Improvements were apparent after use of local oestrogen therapy, but many women were unaware of treatment options, and almost 60% had not used local oestrogen therapy.
Symptoms of vaginal discomfort were as follows:
- vaginal itching (38%)
- vaginal burning (24%)
- vaginal pain related to touching and/or intercourse (21%)
- pain during urination (13%)
- vaginal soreness (12%)
- bleeding during intercourse (6%)
Effects of vaginal discomfort
Approximately two-thirds of women avoided intimacy because of vaginal discomfort.
The main reasons for avoiding s*x were as follows:
- s*x was less satisfying
- s*x was painful
- there was a loss of libido
Half of all those surveyed reported decreased s*xual activity, and around one-fifth believed vaginal discomfort had ‘caused a big problem’ for their s*x lives. Significantly higher proportions of women than men reported being ‘put off’ having s*x and feeling emotionally distant from their partners.5
For many women, vaginal discomfort had a negative impact on their feelings and self-esteem. Around half believed they had lost their ‘youth’ or were upset that their bodies did not ‘work’ as previously. One-third no longer believed themselves to be s*xually attractive.
One-third no longer believed themselves to be s*xually attractive
Treatment is available
Only 21 percent of the women used vaginal hormone therapy, but most said it had a positive impact on s*xual relationships; their s*x lives had improved, and couples had become closer and less isolated from each other. Women said they were more optimistic about the future of their s*x lives. Most also reported more confidence in themselves as s*xual partners, perceived themselves as ‘more of a woman’ and claimed to ‘feel s*xually attractive again’.
Most of the women using vaginal hormone tablets would happily recommend them.
Vaginal dryness can be helped by simple lubricants, but a good option for treatment of vaginal dryness is to use local oestrogen. According to the International Menopause Society, local vaginal oestrogen therapy is preferred when symptoms are limited to the vagina. Local oestrogen can be an effective and logical treatment option for vaginal dryness. This is because only small doses of oestrogen are needed to treat the vaginal symptoms of menopause. The vaginal response to local oestrogen therapy can be quick and long-lasting, if used as indicated.
Local oestrogen therapy is administered directly into the vagina, and can be given as vaginal tablets, cream or a ring. Tablets deliver the exact dose, they are easy to use, and they are clean and virtually leak free. Vaginal oestrogen tablets contain estradiol, which is the same as the female oestrogen hormone found in the body. Vaginal tablets are inserted every day for two weeks; thereafter, twice weekly insertions are sufficient to maintain vaginal health.6
Access to information is important
- The results from the South African CLOSER survey are in line with those from Europe and North America.
- They show that better understanding of the attitudes and behaviour of postmenopausal women is needed.
- Encouragingly, the results from South Africa showed most men and women are comfortable talking about vaginal discomfort.
- Promoting discussion of vaginal dryness is important. Treatment is available, and women need to speak to their healthcare providers about the options without feeling embarrassed.
- It’s time to get comfortable discussing vaginal discomfort with your healthcare provider, and feel better about yourself and your future.
Speak to your doctor or pharmacy about a practical solution for vaginal dryness. All you need to do, is ask!