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How To Prevent Painful Intercourse During Menopause

Cancer Treatment Can Cause A Vagina To Tighten Up

Menopause and You: Painful Intercourse

When a woman has cervical cancer, the most common treatment is pelvic radiation. Strong gamma or x-rays penetrate the cervix to kill the cancer cells. During radiation treatment, the rays inflame and irritate vaginal tissue. As the vaginal tissue heals, it forms scars along the vaginal wall and pelvic floor. The scar tissue shortens and narrows the vagina, making sexual activity, and gynecological exams painful.

Laser Therapy For Vaginal Health

If youre looking for a safe, non-invasive way to address painful intercourse brought on by low estrogen levels, MonaLisa Touch® laser therapy is an innovative and highly effective long-term solution.

In addition to eliminating vaginal dryness without the need for messy lubricants, hormone replacement therapy, or surgery, laser therapy also helps prevent further complications, including vaginal atrophy.

MonaLisa Touch uses fractional CO2 laser technology to revitalize the tissues that line the vaginal canal. By restoring proper trophic balance to these tissues, the treatment directly addresses the underlying conditions that cause painful sex.

In just three quick treatment sessions, MonaLisa Touch activates the production of new collagen and revitalizes the vaginal mucosa to help restore normal vaginal functional and pain-free sexual intimacy.

MonaLisa Touch is successful for nearly 90% of women affected by hormone-induced vaginal dryness and sexual pain, and its an excellent solution for younger women, cancer patients, and other women who cant safely receive HRT.

Were proud that Womens Healthcare of Princeton was one of the first medical practices in the United States to offer MonaLisa Touch laser therapy, and our expert team has helped countless women put an end to painful intercourse, improve sexual health, and find renewed intimacy with their partners.

You dont have to live with sexual pain find out what we can do for you today!

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Whats Happening In A Woman’s Body

GSM is associated with a decrease in estrogen and other sex steroid hormones and may include genital dryness, burning, irritation, lack of lubrication, discomfort or pain, and urinary symptoms such as frequent nighttime urination or pain on urination.

The 2013 Clarifying Vaginal Atrophys Impact on Sex and Relationships survey found that menopausal women with vaginal discomfort were likely to avoid intimacy and experience loss of libido. Thirty-five percent of women with vaginal atrophy said they put off having sex, and 49 percent said it resulted in less satisfying sex.

Falling estrogen levels resulting in dryness and thinning of vaginal tissues can cause intercourse to be uncomfortable for between 17 and 45 percent of postmenopausal women, according to the National Menopause Foundation. Discomfort can range from a tight feeling to severe pain.

The more the tissue is uncomfortable, the more a woman may guard and tighten, said Amy Stein, a New York-based physical therapist who specializes in treating pelvic floor dysfunction. The pelvic floor consists of the muscles, ligaments, tissues and nerves that are like a hammock supporting the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum.

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Other Treatments For Painful Sex After Menopause

Pinkerton suggests women also try the following remedies for painful sex after menopause:

  • Treat vaginal tissues with a prescription low-dose vaginal estrogen via cream, suppository or ring. This is minimally absorbed, unlike hormone replacement therapy, which goes into the bloodstream. Pinkerton said labels warning of severe health consequences dont apply to these local treatments and should be changed because they scare women away, as this editorial explains.
  • Use an over-the-counter lubricant or moisturizer at least twice a week to maintain a healthy vaginal pH. Use natural products such as coconut oil or olive oil to moisturize the vulva area.
  • Use long-lasting silicone-based lubricants during intercourse.
  • With or without a partner, have regular stimulation to increase blood flow to the area.
  • Women who have not been sexually active for a while should be patient: It can take up to three months to get back to normal.

How To Tell If You Have Vaginal Dryness

How and why is Sex affected post Menopause?

Medically speaking, the term for painful intercourse is dyspareunia. Its a persistent or recurring pain in the genitals that occurs just before, during, or after sex. About 30% of postmenopausal women that dont do any hormone therapy say they have dyspareunia.

There are a few varying degrees of dyspareunia.

  • Superficial pain: This is something most women complain of, particularly during vaginal penetration. The pain can be sharp or burning.
  • Deep pain: This happens during deep penetration or thrusting, and can lead to severe pain.

Many women can experience both superficial and deep sexual pain. And while dyspareunia is temporary for most, it can turn into a pain disorder for many others.

If youre a menopausal woman and dealing with dyspareunia, one reason may be vaginal dryness, a.k.a Vulvar Vaginal Atrophy .

Today, vulva vaginal atrophy is mostly known as Genitourinary syndrome of menopause. It is a more inclusive term that explains the range of changes resulting from a lack of estrogen during menopause.

Nearly 50-70% of postmenopausal women are affected by vaginal dryness or genitourinary syndrome after menopause.

With vaginal dryness, the vaginal tissues begin to thin and dry out. There is also a loss of vaginal discharge and elasticity. Vaginal atrophy can make your vaginal opening narrow and, eventually, shrink your entire vagina. More often than not, vaginal dryness boils down to a lack of estrogen.

These are some of the symptoms of vaginal atrophy:

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Why Does Sex Hurt After Menopause

Post-menopausal intercourse pain is due to the decrease in the bodys estrogen levels. Estrogen is responsible for the normal functioning of your reproductive organs, including the vagina. The hormone stimulates the release of natural lubricants and usually stimulates the repair of damaged cells in your vaginal lining.

Without your bodys normal production of estrogen, you may notice vaginal dryness, laxity, burning, pain, and itching. For many women, those symptoms amplify with sexual intercourse. Altogether, these symptoms represent a condition called vaginal atrophy.

Whats more, is that sexual activity encourages blood flow to the vagina. If you avoid sex, you may experience even more tissue thinning and pain.

Physical Changes After Menopause

Your body goes through many physical changes during menopause, many of which can have an impact on sexual intercourse. These changes are primarily due to shifting hormone levels, especially a decrease in the amount of estrogen your ovaries produce.

Some of the physical changes you might experience with menopause include:

  • Gradual weight gain
  • Vulvovaginal atrophy that results in dryness, itching, and pain
  • Frequent urination and increased levels of urinary tract infections
  • Incontinence
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Sleep problems like insomnia

Some or all of these uncomfortable symptoms might negatively influence your sex drive and affect how desireable or pleasurable sex is to you. You might even experience pain or discomfort during sex. In addition to the physical changes, many women experience mood swings and emotional changes before, during, and after menopause.

The good news is that there are ways to keep sex great after menopause. Once you know why you might be experiencing painful sex after menopause, you can explore different treatment options.

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What Natural Or Home Remedies Help Relieve Painful Intercourse

Applying lubricating gels to the outer sexual organs, the vulva and labia, as well as using lubricating products in the vagina may be helpful to some women and ease pain during intercourse. Sex toys, such as vibrators or dildos, may also be useful. A woman should talk with her health care professional before attempting to use a vaginal dilator.

How Does Estrogen Fit In

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The ovaries produce estrogen and encourage the body to release natural lubricants. It also helps with growing new cells to restore the vaginal lining.

When you hit menopause, your vulva goes through vaginal tissue changes. Estrogen levels will decrease during and after menopause.

When estrogen levels drop, these are some of the vaginal symptoms:

  • A loss of fat in your labia majora. This drops the size of your labia.
  • The labia minora shrinks or thins. When the labia minora gets thinner, it produces fewer secretions and makes your vagina less elastic.
  • A lack of vaginal lubrication or padding. This leads to an exposed clitoris and vaginal opening that brings about vaginal bleeding, chafing, irritation, tearing, and trauma.
  • You can develop urinary tract problems.

Many women experience varying levels of discomfort from vaginal tightness to extreme sexual pain during intercourse due to this drop in estrogen.

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Common Causes Of Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause. A drop in estrogen can reduce the fluid that lines the vagina. Estrogen levels can drop for other reasons, such as childbirth, breastfeeding, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, surgical removal of the ovaries or when using certain anti-estrogen medications used to treat endometriosis, uterine fibroids or breast cancer.

Memory And Concentration Problems

During perimenopause, women often complain of short-term memory problems and difficulty with concentration. Study results looking at the relationship between falling hormone levels and cognitive function have been inconsistent. Some women do believe that low dose estrogen after menopause helps them think. But the research has not supported this. Stress likely plays a more important role in memory and thinking compared to hormonal fluctuations.

Treating memory and concentration problems. Just as it isn’t clear what causes memory and concentration problems, there is no obvious remedy. Staying physically active and scheduling at least 150 minutes per week of dedicated exercise may be the best way to maintain brain health. Brain and memory experts also recommend that people work to keep their brain functioning at its peak by taking on new and interesting challenges. Use your mind in many different ways. Do crossword puzzles. Learn a new musical instrument or sport. Play chess. Read more books. Learn a new language or how to use the computer. The idea is to challenge your brain in new ways.

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Physical Causes: Deep Pain

If pain occurs during deep penetration or is more acute in particular positions, it may be the result of a medical treatment or a medical condition.

Medical treatments that can lead to pain include pelvic surgery, hysterectomy, and some cancer treatments.

Medical conditions include:

  • cystitis: An inflammation of the bladder wall, usually caused by bacterial infection
  • endometriosis: A condition arising from the presence of tissue from the uterus in other areas of the body
  • fibroids: Non-cancerous tumors that grow on the wall of the uterus
  • interstitial cystitis: A chronic painful bladder condition
  • irritable bowel syndrome : A functional disorder of the digestive tract
  • ovarian cysts: A build-up of fluid within an ovary
  • pelvic inflammatory disease : Inflammation of the female reproductive organs, usually caused by infection
  • uterine prolapse: One or more pelvic organs extend into the vagina

Treatment Solutions For Sexual Discomfort

Home Remedies and Treatments for Dyspareunia in Post ...

Finding the right solution for sex-related pain depends on its underlying cause. If that cause isnt readily apparent, a more exhaustive investigation can often reveal the reason for persistent discomfort.

In addition to performing a comprehensive physical exam, including a pelvic exam, we ask about your medical history to find out if you have any conditions or take any medications that may obstruct your normal sexual response. We also ask about your sexual history, to find out if any events in your past affect how you feel about sex.

Effective treatment for one woman may simply mean changing a prescription medication that interferes with natural lubrication, while a woman whos living with the aftereffects of an episiotomy or perineum tear from a recent childbirth may get the best results from physical therapy or surgery.

Hormone replacement therapy , or the supplementation of reproductive hormones that your body no longer makes, has long been the go-to treatment option for menopausal women affected by vaginal dryness and sexual pain.

Although HRT in the form of low-dose topical vaginal estrogen can be highly effective for some women, its a short-term solution that isnt medically appropriate for all women.

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The Physiology Of Sex After Menopause

You might be familiar with the stereotype of menopausal women portrayed in the mediacrotchety, dried-up, and sexless after menopause. And yeah, your body is changing and this change comes with side effects, but you dont suddenly have a vagina-less Barbie body. Sex is still a basic part of your human experience and you can still enjoy it.

However, its best to just come out and say it: menopause will change your sex life. There are several reasons why:

  • Vaginal atrophy. During menopause your body halts estrogen production. A decrease in estrogen can lead to vaginal atrophy, which the Mayo Clinic defines as thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls. While that sounds scary, dont worry, there are treatments available. But before we go further its important to note that vaginal atrophy doesnt just affect your vaginal canal. It can also come with symptoms like recurring UTIs, burning when you urinate, and an urgency to urinate. In short, vaginal atrophy affects everything about your vulva, and not just the parts you use for sex. Its normal, and you shouldnt be embarrassed or ashamed. Most menopausal people have some of these issues!

How Do I Know If Im Menopausal

There are two basic stages of menopause: menopause itself and perimenopause, the period of time right before. The quickness of transition varies person to person, but in perimenopause you can expect symptoms like:

  • Lengthened menstrual cycles. The length of your cycle is the number of days between periods, starting with the first day of your period and ending the day before the next one begins. The average cycle length is usually between 24 and 38 days, but this can lengthen during adolescence, while breastfeeding, and during perimenopause. You may also experience heavy bleeding or irregular cycles.
  • Hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep disruptions. Changes in hormonal levels can cause discomfort that makes it harder to sleep.
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After perimenopause, youll move into menopause. The medical definition is marked by 12 consecutive months without a period, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of menopause are quite similar to the preceding phase, and it can affect your sex life.

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Will Foreplay Change Things

Intensifying and normalizing foreplay during menopause is a great way to get a better sex life and achieve orgasm through this horrendous time of a womans life.

If you communicate to your partner and he or she does contribute to sex the way you need them to, the uterine walls will get wet quicker. That means that insertion wont hurt as much as it did before.

Other additives can help, too, but I find that sticking with the natural option first is the best way to go.

You always have to be honest and see what works for you, though.

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How Do Vaginal Dilators Help

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Vaginal dilators help to stretch and loosen the vagina naturally. The VuVa dilators have Neodymium magnets that help relax muscles and ligaments. As the vaginal muscles and tissues relax, the magnets encourage blood flow to the inflamed or scarred area to calm the nerves. We have iron in our blood, and every ion or atom has oxygen and triggers an electrical impulse.

Together, these elements create our bodies own electrical, magnetic field. When the magnetic vaginal dilator is placed against the painful area, it brings in fresh oxygenated blood to the surrounding muscles and stretched nerves. The drawing in of the new blood accelerates healing while minimizing pain.

Do you want to start dilator therapy? Visit www.vuvatech.com to purchase dilators made in the USA.

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Menopause And Your Urinary Tract

It has been debated whether the changes in a womanâs urinary tract with age are due to menopause and the lack of estrogen, or instead related to the aging process alone. We do know, however, that the bladder is loaded with estrogen receptors, so the reduction of estrogen that happens in menopause probably doesnât help.

With age, the bladder begins to lose both its volume and its elasticity, and itâs normal to have to go to the bathroom more frequently. As the bacteria concentration in your genital region increases your urethra may thin, allowing bacteria easier access to your bladder. For these reasons, urinary tract infections are more common as women age. This risk begins to increase within four or five years of your final menstrual period.

The bladder also begins to thin, leaving women more susceptible to incontinence, particularly if certain chronic illnesses or recurrent urinary tract infections are also present.

The pelvic muscles weaken as you age. You may find that exercise, coughing, laughing, lifting heavy objects, or performing any other movement that puts pressure on the bladder can cause small amounts of urine to leak. Lack of regular physical exercise may also contribute to this condition.

Other Conditions That Cause Pain

Pain during sex isnt always due to atrophy. It could also be a sign of these conditions:

Vestibulodynia. The vestibule is the area where the vulva the outer parts of the vagina including the clitoris, clitoral hood, and labia connects with the vagina. In some women, the vestibule becomes very sensitive to touch. Having sex or inserting a tampon is very painful. Doctors can treat this condition with local anesthetic creams or gels, physical therapy, and mental health counseling.

Vulvodynia. This condition causes pain or burning in the vulva without any obvious cause. About 60 percent of women with vulvodynia are unable to have sex because of the pain. Treatments include topical anesthetics, physical therapy, and mental health counseling.

Vaginismus. In this condition, the muscles around the vagina contract painfully during sex, or whenever something is inserted into the vagina. It may be triggered by fear after a traumatic experience. Treatments include a dilator to widen and relax the vagina and physical therapy.

Cystitis. Bladder inflammation can cause pain during sex because the bladder sits right on top of the vagina. At least 90 percent of people interviewed by the International Cystitis Association said interstitial cystitis negatively affected their sex life. Treatments for cystitis include medication, nerve blocks, and physical therapy. Relaxation techniques, heat, or cold may also help relieve discomfort.

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