Your Menopausal Vagina: Things Your Mother Didn’t Teach You
Hey ladies! Welcome to a Prosper blog that’s all about your vagina during perimenopause and menopause! Bet you didn’t think you’d be reading about that today, did ya?
But seriously, let’s talk about the changes that can happen down there during this time. Your body is going through a lot, and your vagina is no exception. The tissue lining your vagina can become thinner and drier due to declining estrogen levels1, which can cause discomfort and even infections. Your bladder can suffer the consequences too, you can read more about this here. That’s where we come in with some tips your mother didn’t teach you to keep your vagina and happy and healthy.
One more thing before we dive in. Scattered in this post, we do share a number of links to products that we have used and have liked. These are only meant to serve as examples, and we would certainly not claim that these be the only options. We would like to assure everyone that these are not affiliate links, nor do we receive any benefit whatsoever from the companies referenced.
So, with that out the way … let’s get started!
First up, let’s talk about local hormone therapy. Yes, we know the word “hormone” can make some of you cringe, but trust us, it can do wonders for your vagina2. Estrogen can be given vaginally through various forms, like rings, creams, or inserts. The estrogen stays localized in the vagina and doesn’t usually enter your bloodstream, which means it’s an excellent option for women who don’t want to take systemic hormones. Keep in mind that because vaginal estrogen does not enter your bloodstream , you will need another form of estrogen to help with your hot flashes. You can learn more about hormone replacement therapy here. Another local vaginal option is a new product to Canada called Intrarosa. It’s a vaginal tablet that contains a hormone called DHEA , that will convert to estrogen and testosterone in the vagina. And hey, if you’re lucky, this product might even increase your libido! These products can take 2-3 months to be effective so hang tight for some other products that could be helpful.
Next, let’s talk about vaginal moisturizers. These can change the water content of your vaginal cells, resulting in tissue that’s more elastic and thicker3. Plus, it can even promote a healthy environment for the growth of vaginal bacteria lactobacilli. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s good for your vagina, okay? For best results use moisturizers daily or at least 4 times a week. You can find these over the counter, and they’re hormone-free, so no need to worry for those who cannot use hormones.
Now, let’s talk about vaginal lubricants. These little helpers can reduce friction on your vaginal tissue and prevent pain or tearing during intercourse or any penetrative activity4. Water-based lubricants are great, but just make sure to choose one with an osmolarity of less than 300. Anything higher in osmolarity will further dry out your vagina. Silicone lubricants are kinder to the vagina and longer-lasting, so if you’re looking for something that lasts longer and condom compatible, this is the way to go. Oil-based lubricants are a cheaper option and tend to feel more realistic, but just remember they’re not compatible with condoms or latex sex toys. And please, whatever you do, don’t use food-based lubricants like coconut oil or olive oil. Trust us, it’s not worth it in the long run, vaginal infections are not so fun.
Vaginal Barriers Creams
Lastly, let’s talk about vulvar barriers. These are like a band-aid for your sore vulvar skin, protecting it from urine and chafing. Think of it like protecting a baby’s bottom with zinc oxide. When starting local estrogen therapy, the ingredients in the cream can be irritating to your vagina and vulva, so a barrier cream can help ease any discomfort.
Now that you have all the tools to keep your vagina happy and healthy. Let’s learn how to keep it that way5. First things first, limit your vulva washes to once or twice a day with just water. Your vagina has got your back with secretions that protect the vulva, so don’t go sticking any products up there to try and clean it out. It’s like a self-cleaning oven, folks – just leave it be. Stay away from perfumed products that could upset your vulva, like fabric softeners, perfumed detergents, and dryer sheets. And for you menstruating ladies out there, beware of panty liners, tampons, and pads that can cause irritation. If your vagina is extra sensitive, consider going for hypoallergenic or natural cotton sanitary products.
So there you have it, ladies. Your vagina during perimenopause and menopause might be going through some changes, but with the help of local hormone therapy, vaginal moisturizers, vaginal lubricants, and vulvar barriers, you can keep it happy and healthy. And if you need any extra help, just come visit us at Prosper Menopause Clinic. We’ve got you covered!
- Balance. (2021, Sep 29) Vaginal dryness Factsheet. https://www.balance-menopause.com/menopause-library/vaginal-dryness-factsheet/
- Gynaecology Quality Improvement Collaboration. (2023, March) Local Hormone Therapy Basics. https://gynqi.com/local-hormone-therapy-basic/
Sarmento ACA, Kamilos MF, Costa APF, Vieira-Baptista P, Eleutério J Jr, Gonçalves AK. Use of Moisturizers and Lubricants for Vulvovaginal Atrophy. Front Reprod Health. 2021 Dec 23;3:781353. doi: 10.3389/frph.2021.781353. PMID: 36303977; PMCID: PMC9580673.
- Streicher, L. (2021). Slip sliding away: Turning back the clock on your vagina. Lauren Streicher.
- Gynaecology Quality Improvement Collaboration. (n.d.) Vulva Care. Retrieved v.12.22.2021 on May 2, 2023, from https://gynqi.com/vulva-care/
- Featured photo by Raashid Ahamed on Pexels.