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Menopause & Vaginal Dryness

Although it is not as easy to talk about as hot flashes or night sweats, vaginal dryness is a very common issue faced by women during menopause. About 50% of postmenopausal women have symptoms of vaginal discomfort within 3 years of menopause that affect sexuality and quality of life, yet only a minority seek medical attention, despite the availability of various management options.

Vaginal Dryness in Menopausal Women*

Bothersome vaginal symptoms are common in women of all ages but increase with menopause. The decrease in estrogen with menopause is a major contributor to vaginal dryness, itching, burning, discomfort, and pain during intercourse (also known as dyspareunia) or other sexual activity.

Vaginal atrophy is the medical term that describes these changes, and when combined with bladder symptoms after menopause, it is called genitourinary syndrome of menopause. Symptoms of vaginal atrophy may significantly affect your quality of life, sexual satisfaction, and relationship with your partner.

Menopause-related vaginal symptoms may be bothersome early in the menopause transition or may start after several years of decreased estrogen levels. Unlike hot flashes, which generally improve with time, vaginal symptoms typically worsen with time due to both aging and a prolonged lack of estrogen.

Menopause and Aging can affect the vagina in the following ways:*

  • Vaginal tissues become thin, dry, and less elastic
  • Fragile, dry, inflamed vaginal tissues may tear and bleed
  • Vaginal secretions decrease with reduced lubrication
  • Vaginal infections increase (as the healthy acidic pH of the vagina increases)
  • Discomfort with urination and increased urinary tract infections can occur
  • Women with menopause induced by cancer treatments may have additional injury to the vaginal tissues from chemotherapy or pelvic radiation
  • Aromatase inhibitors taken by many women with breast cancer result in extremely low estrogen levels, often causing severe symptoms of vaginal dryness and decreased lubrication
  • Vaginal changes often result in pain with sexual activity or pelvic exams
  • Women with discomfort from vaginal atrophy often engage in less frequent intercourse or other sexual activity, which can cause the vagina to become shorter, narrower, and less elastic
  • For some women, pain, narrowing of the vagina, and involuntary tightening of vaginal muscles (vaginismus) can intensify to the point where sexual intercourse or other sexual activity is no longer pleasurable or even possible

Vaginal Dryness & Sexual Discomfort

During menopause, the body undergoes physiological changes due to estrogen loss. The vulva loses its collagen and fat tissue and the vulvar tissue loses its ability to retain water, becoming thin, fragile and less elastic. The natural lubrication a women’s body produces is reduced and the production of fluid is delayed during sexual stimulation. The thinning of the tissue and lack of natural lubrication can result in a woman experiencing dryness, bleeding and/or pain during sexual activity.

The most commonly reported sexual problems in mid-life women are loss of libido and dyspareunia (painful intercourse). Women with symptoms of vaginal discomfort experience a decreased quality of life, and almost one-third of women with vaginal dryness have lost interest in sex. Vaginal dryness and associated discomfort can severely impede a woman’s sexual desire and ability to become aroused, can cause emotional distress, and may impact her emotional intimacy and self-image.

About 50% of postmenopausal women have symptoms of vaginal discomfort within 3 years of menopause, which can greatly impact a women’s sexuality, emotional intimacy, and quality of life

RepaGyn® is a hormone free option to help relieve vaginal dryness and help promote healing of vaginal tissue

* Provided by the North American Menopause Society, MenoNote: Vaginal Dryness, 2014 http://www.menopause.org/docs/for-women/mndryness.pdf

Sources +

Managing Menopause. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada (JOGC). September 2014. Volume 36, Number 9, Supplement 2, pS35 - S62. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. Retrieved March 8, 2015, from
http://sogc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/gui311CPG1409Eabstract1.pdf

MenoNote: Vaginal Dryness. North American Menopause Society. 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2015, from http://www.menopause.org/docs/for-women/mndryness.pdf

Painful Intercourse (Dyspareunia). Mayo Clinic. January 24, 2015. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/painful-intercourse/basics/symptoms/con-20033293

Management of Symptomatic Vulvovaginal Atrophy: 2013 Position. Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society. Vol. 20, No. 9, pp. 888/902. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from
http://www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/2013/vva-position-statement.pdf