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Why Is Sex Painful In Menopause

Bacterial And Yeast Infections

Menopause and You: Painful Intercourse

Bacterial and yeast infections are among the most common and best-known problems capable of causing painful intercourse. These infections include bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis, and cervicitis, which is an infected and inflamed cervix. Of these, a yeast infection is most likely to cause painful sex.

As you can see, there are many possible reasons for painful intercourse before menopause. The good news is that we can help treat all of them: Call Fred A. Williams, MD, or book an appointment online.

How To Have Great Sex After Menopause

Menopause can do a number on your sex life. These 6 gyno-backed solutions will keep things super pleasurable.

Menopause and sex don’t always go hand in hand. Why’s that? After menopause, a woman’s ovaries stop making estrogen, the main female sex hormone. This can be a tough adjustment, because estrogen is responsible for so many bodily functions, from bone health to steady moods to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol.

But the hardest change many women deal with has to do with the vagina. Estrogen keeps the vaginal lining elastic and moisturized, and it also helps power your libido. Without estrogen, vaginal tissues atrophy, dryness sets in, and arousal is more difficult. When you do have penetrative sex, it can hurt and even cause tearing inside the vagina.

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I see women whove gone years being told that a normal part of aging is to have pain with sex, says ob-gyn Lisa M. Valle, DO, medical director of Oasis Women’s Sexual Function Center in Santa Monica, California. By the time they come see me, thats what I hear. The fact is, theres a lot you can do.

Not all women experience painful sex after menopause. Without the fear of pregnancy, some women say they’re more relaxed during intimacy. And at this point in life, they typically don’t have young kids to take up all their time, so there’s more opportunity to enjoy the action.

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When To See A Doctor

If lubricants and vaginal moisturizers donât give you enough relief, make an appointment with your gynecologist or OB/GYN.

Show Sources

Lauren Streicher, MD, clinical professor, department of obstetrics and gynecology, Northwestern University School of Medicine founder and director, Northwestern Medicine Center for Menopause, Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Health.

Kathleen Green, MD, assistant professor, department of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Florida College of Medicine.

Alyssa Dweck, MD, gynecologist, CareMount Medical Group medical consultant, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Laurie Mintz, PhD, sexual psychologist professor, department of psychology, University of Florida.

Ellen Barnard, MSW, certified sexuality educator co-owner, A Womanâs Touch Sexuality Resource Center, Madison, WI.

The North American Menopause Society: âPain with Penetration,â âIllness, Medical Problems, Medications,â âPain in the Vulva or Pelvis,â âSex Therapy and Counseling.â

Pain Research and Management: âDyspareunia in postmenopausal women: A critical review.â

Harvard Health Publishing: âManaging postmenopausal vaginal atrophy,â âPostmenopausal bleeding: Donât worry â but do call your doctor.â

Mayo Clinic Proceedings: âRecognition and Management of Nonrelaxing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.â

UpToDate: âPatient education: Vaginal dryness .â

Mayo Clinic: âWomenâs Wellness: Painful sex after menopause.â

What Are The Symptoms Of Premature Menopause

Get Rid Of Pain With Sex After Menopause

There isnt really any difference between the symptoms of natural menopause and premature menopause symptoms. When your estrogen levels drop significantly , you can expect to experience at least some of the following menopause symptoms:

  • Lighter or heavier than normal periods
  • Irregular or missed periods, followed by no periods at all
  • Hot flashes

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Can I Use Coconut Oil As A Lubricant

Coconut oil has many uses, both in food and in personal care. One of them is that it’s a great moisturizer. Solid at room temperature, it melts into a liquid when applied to the skin and gives skin a soft feel and a pleasant scent. People also use coconut oil on their hair and their tattoos.

But is coconut oil a good sexual lubricant? The answer is a solid “it depends.” Coconut oil should not be used as a lubricant if you are using latex condoms or other barriers. As an oil, there is a risk that it will erode the condom and increase the likelihood of breakage.

Despite reports in the popular press about the use of coconut oil for vaginal lubrication, there is remarkably little medical literature on the subject. There is some evidence that coconut oil is frequently used as a sexual lubricant in some parts of the world.

One 2020 study suggests it may help address vaginal dryness. There is some evidence that it is safe for vaginal flora .

Causes And Solutions For Painful Intercourse

    Sexual intimacy is meant to be an enjoyable experience that draws you and your partner closer together. But when sex becomes painful, you may find yourself doing anything and everything just to avoid it.

    While theres no doubt that painful intercourse can have a major impact on your life and your relationship with your partner, its nothing to agonize over or feel embarrassed about. This fairly common problem three in four women experience pain during sex at some point in their lives can usually be resolved with the right approach.

    Here at Womens Healthcare of Princeton in Princeton, New Jersey, weve helped many women overcome painful intercourse and restore their sexual health, and were confident that we can help you, too.

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    Relaxation For Painful Sex

    One of the vaginas many incredible features is its ability to regulate levels of moisture based on hormone spikes, which can be caused by sexual arousal. Women experiencing painful sex should talk openly with their partner about how to best experience arousal. By taking the time to engage in comprehensive foreplay and relaxing into the moment, many women find themselves able to sufficiently increase their levels of moisture enough to avoid painful sex.

    At Home Remedies For Painful Sex After Menopause

    Menopause and Pain

    One unfortunate reality of menopause is that the symptoms of hormone decline rarely subside on their own. That said, symptoms that lead to painful sex after menopause can be alleviated through a number of short-term, at-home treatments recommended by Board certified Englewood, NJ gynecologist Dr. Hetal Gor.

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    Ask Your Doctor About Testosterone

    Testosterone replacement has long been used as a solution for men with a waning libidoand it can help rev up your own sex drive as well. Still, not all doctors are OK with prescribing synthetic versions of this main male hormone . Testosterone is by no means a cure-all and can come with side effects like acne and thinning hair. Luckily, newer remedies to enhance libido are being worked on even as we speak, Dr. Minkin says.

    Complications Of Painful Sex After Menopause

    Aside from the obvious not being able to experience sexual pleasure painful intercourse presents another potentially big problem. If you cant enjoy sex, the lack thereof may take a toll on your relationship with your partner.

    If youre experiencing painful sex, discuss your situation with your partner. If they understand whats going on, theyll be better able to support you and encourage you to seek treatment.

    To learn more about the MonaLisa Touch procedure at Suncoast Womens Care, check out our MonaLisa Touch FAQ. To find out if MonaLisa Touch is right for you, schedule an appointment with one of our providers. Call us at 727-230-9508 or request an appointment online.

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    Use Lubricants And Moisturizers

    When vaginal tissues become dry in menopause, they cannot produce enough lubrication for you to avoid pain during sex naturally. But you can always use over the counter lubricants to ease the pain. Apply them before and after sex for the best results. Apart from lubricants, there are also moisturizers available that you can apply on a daily basis, not only before or during intercourse. These lubricants are designed to help ease vaginal dryness over the long term and offer a good way to support your vaginal health.

    Itisdefinitely True That Sex After Menopause Can Be Painful At Least For Some Time

    How to Deal with Painful Sex in Menopause

    The most prominent change I hear about from my patients is that sometimes sex can become painful after menopause, board-certified ob/gyn Antonio Pizarro, M.D., tells SELF. Most of the time, this is related to a loss of estrogen. That can cause what’s known as vaginal atrophy or genitourinary syndrome of menopause, in which the vaginal tissue becomes thinner and more delicate, Dr. Pizarro explains. Issues like pain, vaginal dryness, and urinary problems can crop up as a result of vaginal atrophy. Around half of postmenopausal people experience these symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    Doctors mainly treat vaginal atrophy with some form of estrogen supplementation, but there can be drawbacks. Pizarro notes that theres a small risk the amped up estrogen can contribute to uterine cancer unless a woman pairs it with the synthetic hormone progestin. But combining the two may then increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, according to The American Cancer Society, which has a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits and drawbacks of using hormones to deal with menopause symptoms.

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    Why Is Sex Painful For Some Women After Menopause

    When sex is painful after menopause, it’s usually because of dryness or vulvovaginal atrophy. Mild dryness that is only bothersome during intercourse can be treated with increased use of vaginal lubricants. More significant pain or dryness may require treatment with local estrogens or other medications.

    Laser Therapy The Ideal Solution

    If youre ready to put an end to painful intercourse for good, look no further than MonaLisa Touch laser therapy. MonaLisa Touch uses fractional CO2 laser technology to renew and revitalize the delicate tissues that line your vaginal canal. During the quick in-office treatment, we use a slim probe to ease the laser into your vagina, where it emits gentle pulses of energy that create painless micro-perforations in the surrounding tissues.

    These microscopic perforations stimulate your bodys internal healing mechanisms, prompting ongoing tissue repair through cell renewal as well as collagen and elastin production. On top of completely revitalizing your vaginal tissues, MonaLisa Touch laser therapy also rejuvenates the vaginal mucosa, re-establishes normal lubrication, and restores proper function.

    Nearly 90% of women affected by estrogen-related vaginal dryness and sexual pain are happy with the results of MonaLisa Touch treatments. For most women, it only takes three treatments to reverse the effects of vaginal atrophy, restore normal functionality, and return to pain-free sexual intimacy.

    So what are you waiting for?

    You dont have to let unavoidable hormonal changes upset your sex life. Call our office today to find out how MonaLisa Touch laser therapy can restore your vaginal health and your sexual vitality. Or simply click the request appointment button to schedule your visit.

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    What Is The Cause Of Painful Sex In Menopause

    Just like with many, if not all, other symptoms of menopause, the main reason for painful sex is the decline in estrogen levels during this transition. Because of hormonal changes in your body, the tissues of the vagina become drier and thinner. As a result, this can create more friction during sex and result in pain and tightness. A study among menopausal women shows that most of the sexual problems appeared in perimenopause and menopause . Experiencing painful sex in menopause is a condition called GSM, genitourinary syndrome of menopause, or dyspareunia.

    Many women feel too shy to discuss the problem of painful sex with their doctor or even with their partner. They are lucky if they have a friends they could speak with about it and ask for advice. Although, it is more common for women to wait until they cannot bear their symptoms anymore to reach out for help. However, giving women more chances to talk about problems in sex related to menopause could improve their quality of life, as the study suggests .

    Why Does Sex Hurt

    Menopause Issues Resolved-No More Painful Sex!

    Pain during or after sex can be caused by many things, such as:

    • illness
    • a physical problem
    • a psychological problem

    If you get pain during or after sex, your body may be trying to tell you something is wrong, so don’t ignore it.

    See your GP or go to a sexual health clinic.

    You may find talking about sex embarrassing, but remember that doctors are used to dealing with problems like this.

    Pain during sex can affect both men and women.

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    Or You Might Find That Youre Not As Interested In Sex And Be Totally Fine With That

    A lot of my patients who are many years past menopause report that their lives have changed in that way: The emphasis on and impact of sexual intercourse arent what they were before, says Pizarro. When talking through potential treatment options, many of his patients decide its not a big enough deal for them to pursue a medical solution to lowered libido. Its just not something that concerns them. Their life has transitioned to a point where theyre more focused on spending time with their partner or traveling, he explains.

    With All That Said You Can Still Have A Great Sex Life In Menopause

    Pizarro and Brown-James both agree on this point. In fact, Dr. Pizarro says meno post-menopausal people have very active sex lives even without taking estrogen. Whats more, sexual satisfaction might increase once someones been through menopause.

    There are a few reasons that might happen. The worry of being pregnant is no longer there, says Brown-James. Also, some people experience an increase in their sexual awareness of their bodies. Many women have not been taught to explore their bodies and have internalized ideas that the vulva or vagina are dirty or for someone elses pleasure, not theirs, she explains. A lot of times, if the knowledge that none of that is true hasnt taken root before, it gets dispelled at this point, and women realize their bodies are really for themselves. Bonus: That may also lead to more intense orgasms, says Brown-James.

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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.

    Its Best Not To Ignore Any Changes That Cause You Distress

    Sex in Menopause: The Painful Truth

    You may cringe at the thought of talking to your gynecologist about sex. But rest assured, there is no reason to feel awkward. If you’re dealing with these changes and are very much unhappy with them, talk to your doctor. Right now, this may be a conversation that needs to take place via telehealth due to the pandemic. If you feel dismissed, then Dr. Rowen encourages you to consider switching to another provider if at all possible. Go find someone who will listen to you and take your problems seriously, Dr. Rowen says. Together, you can come up with a treatment plan that may help you have a more fulfilling sex life, even after menopause.

    All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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    Painful Sex And The Menopause

    After menopause, up to half of all women have pain before, during, or after sex. And sex after menopause doesnât get talked about often. And yet, contrary to what some people may think, women do continue to be sexual beings as they age.

    According to a survey presented at the North American Menopause Society, almost half of women believe that itâs normal for sexual function to decline after menopause, and only about a third had ever tried to get help correcting the menopause symptoms that were interfering with their sex lives.

    A survey suggests that 84% of menopausal women find sex painful. In the survey, nearly 70% said their relationships had suffered as a result. A whopping 81% percent didnât know that âvaginal atrophyâ or age-related vaginal drynessâa common issue for many menopausal womenâis a medical condition.

    Why does vaginal dryness happen during perimenopause or menopause?

    Bladder and urinary problems

    Another common problem is bladder or urinary symptoms â often recurrent cystitis or recurrent urinary tract infections . It might just be feeling a need to void more frequently, or getting up more during the night. Thereâs also a higher incidence of thrush and other vaginal infections like BV .

    Hormones are important great sex

    Top tips to help with vaginal dryness

    itâs worth trying self-help options in the first instance. There are a variety of ways to relieve vaginal dryness and thus make sex easier and more pleasant:

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