What to Do About Vaginal Pain After Menopause
There are a number of physical changes during menopause. Hot flashes begin, periods cease, and vaginal dryness becomes more common. During and after menopause vaginal pain may increase.
A drop in estrogen is the most common cause of pain after menopause. The vagina has a pH balance that is maintained by this hormone, which is responsible for lubricating the skin and making the tissues more flexible. This helps keep infections at bay.
The drop in estrogen can cause vaginal issues like vaginal dryness, tightness, and pain.
There are ways to relieve vaginal pain after menopause. This article will look at other issues that are not related to menopause and could be causing vaginal pain.
In most cases, vaginal discomfort and pain after menopause is related to sex. In fact, according to the North American Menopause Society, 17 to 45 percent of postmenopausal women say they find sex painful.
As estrogen levels drop, the vagina makes less of its own natural lubrication and moisture. The tissues become thinner and more fragile.
As a result, penetrative sex may cause tearing and irritation. Discomfort and pain after sex are more likely, too. In fact, it‘s not uncommon for postmenopausal women to experience soreness, burning, and irritation in the vagina or vulva after sex.
vaginal tightness during sex may be the cause of pain after menopause. The vagina can be shortened and narrowed without the help of estrogen. Penetration may be painful.
This dry, thin vaginal tissue and the resulting inflammation and irritation is a condition called vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis. Other symptoms can include:
- It was itching.
- spotting or bleeding
- There are infections, like the ones of the UTIs.
- frequent urination
“You may experience bleeding after sex if you don’t get treatment. You may be less likely to have sex because of vaginal pain.”
Vaginal atrophy can also lead to chronic vaginal infections like yeast infections after menopause. Because of the changes in the vagina‘s pH, bacteria, yeast, and other organisms can grow and thrive more easily. This can also lead to vaginal discomfort.
Urinary function issues are common in people with vaginal atrophy, too. This includes urinary tract infections (There are infections, like the ones of the UTIs.) and bladder infections. These conditions cause pain and discomfort.
Vaginal pain after menopause is not hard to treat. Your doctor will want to know the root cause of the pain. This will help make sure you get the right treatment. Some of the treatments include:
- Vaginal moisturizer. You can use over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers during sex or at other times to increase the vagina‘s moisture level. During sex, moisturizers can also help reduce friction.
- Water-based lubricants. Lube can help reduce friction during sex, which may make sex less painful.
- Estrogen. Supplementing estrogen levels may help increase the vagina‘s flexibility and lubrication. Some estrogen products can be applied topically to the vagina. A low dose estrogen supplement may help ease minor symptoms. Systemic hormone therapy, or hormone replacement therapy, provides larger doses of the hormone.
There are other reasons for vaginal pain after menopause. The following issues can cause vaginal pain.
- Vulvodynia. Vulvodynia is a condition that causes chronic pain in the vulva, the outer part of the female genitals. It‘s unclear in most cases what causes it.
- Vaginismus. This involuntary muscle spasm clamps off the opening to the vagina. That makes penetrative sex difficult, and penetration is often painful as a result. These contractions may be caused by any number of underlying issues, from psychological trauma to injury.
- Urinary tract conditions. You may be familiar with a UTI, but other urinary issues can cause vaginal pain. These include bladder infections, bladder inflammation or irritation, and urethritis.
- Sensitivity to condoms. Some people with an allergy to latex experience pain, discomfort, and It was itching. if their partner uses a latex condom during sex.
- Yeast infection. A yeast infection can cause pain, burning, and It was itching.. Yeast infections are more common after menopause because of the changes to the natural environment of the vagina.
“After menopause, you don’t have to live with vaginal pain. Lower estrogen levels can cause vaginal pain and other issues. Most of the underlying causes of the pain can be treated by your doctor.”
It is a common issue after menopause. Many of the other issues that can cause vaginal pain are common. Many people do not talk about it with their doctors.
“It may be a fear of embarrassment. It could be that it’s not knowing how to bring up the topic. If you don’t discuss this issue, you won’t have the chance to get help and treatment.”
Tips for talking with your doctor
- Speak about your quality of life. It may be easier to broach the subject of sex by talking about other issues first. For example, are you having a hard time sleeping through the night because of itchiness or burning? Is exercise more difficult because of the discomfort? Start with the symptoms. Then, as you feel more comfortable, explain other issues you’re experiencing.
- Be honest. Your doctor can‘t treat what they don‘t know about. These issues are deeply personal to you, but remember that what you discuss with your doctor is private. It‘s also something they likely have helped other people treat many times.
- Ask questions. During the visit, your doctor will ask you questions about your health and activities. You should be asking questions back to them. For example, you can ask about over-the-counter treatments that might help. You can also ask about sex practices that may be more comfortable.
- Talk about lifestyle factors. Some issues may not have to do with menopause at all. They could be the result of lifestyle factors like irritating products — soaps, detergents, perfumes, or cleaning products can upset the vagina‘s pH balance and cause pain and vaginal burning. Wearing tight pants or exercise clothes too long could cause issues, too.
“Low estrogen levels can cause vaginal pain after menopause. Less estrogen in the body leads to thinner vaginal tissues. If you don’t use lubrication, penetration sex may be more painful.”
“Vaginal pain after menopause is usually easy to treat. During sex, over-the-counter lubrication or moisturizers can be helpful. You may need a prescription for certain things. The treatments can help boost your estrogen levels and restore the vagina’s flexibility.”
If you are experiencing vaginal pain after menopause, you should talk to your doctor.