Some women experience painful sex after menopause and sadly, many do not seek immediate treatment for this common condition. If you or someone that you know are experiencing this condition, there is help available. This condition is highly treatable and menopause does not need to signal the end of enjoying sexual intimacy.
Medical term and symptoms
Many women who experience painful intercourse after menopause do not understand what is causing this. Vaginal atrophy is the medical term for the condition that may include a range of symptoms in a varying array of intensity. These include vaginal burning, itching, dryness, pain during intercourse and urinary urgency.
Causes of vaginal atrophy
During menopause, the body stops producing estrogen. As a result, in some women, the tissues and walls of the vagina begin to thin out. The dryness is caused by a lack of otherwise naturally produced lubricant, making sex painful. This is a medical condition that is brought on by menopause and it will not get better or go away, rather, the condition often continues to worsen with time.
Professional diagnosis and treatment
The best way to confirm a diagnosis of vaginal atrophy, also known as dispareunia, is to consult with your medical doctor who will perform a pelvic examination. Upon a positive diagnosis, he or she will be able to advise you of the many treatment options available, based upon your current health and risk factors.
Since the cause of the problem is a lack of estrogen in the body, hormone replacement therapy is the most common treatment for dispareunia. This is a synthetic hormone that tricks the body into reacting as though it is still producing estrogen and it has been found to be quite effective in lessening the symptoms and allowing countless women the ability to resume a normal and healthy sex life after menopause. This treatment may not be advisable for women who have had certain cancers or have other risk factors.
Alternative treatment options
In the event that traditional hormone replacement therapy is not recommended, or if you are not comfortable with this treatment, there are natural foods that contain compounds that work in the body in the same way that estrogen does.
Phytoestrogens are chemicals that are found naturally in certain foods, and although the levels found in foods are much weaker than hormone replacement therapy, they have been found to be effective in treating the symptoms of dispareunia, and helping women to once again experience the pleasures of sexual intimacy after menopause
Food containing phytoestrogens
Soy beans are a good source of phytoestrogens. Soy can be added to the diet through supplements, powders and other types of additives that can be combined in cooking and baking. Licorice, wild yams, and nuts such as pistachios, cashews, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chestnuts and hazelnuts. Other sources of phytoestrogens include tofu, hummus, chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans, lentils, split peas and pinto beans.
Vegetables containing phytoestrogens include collard greens, broccoli, winter squash, green beans, cabbage, alfalfa sprouts, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, green peppers and bok choy. Additionally, you'll find them in strawberries, dried prunes, raspberries and peaches, providing a good variety of fruits and vegetables to add to your diet.
Multigrain products also contain a good source of phytoestrogens including brown rice, rye, wheat, barley, oats and flaxseed. When selecting grain products try to stick with the multigrains to get the maximum levels of phytoestrogens that will help supplement your diet.
Whichever treatment plan that you opt for, if you enjoyed sex previously, there is no good reason to do without it after menopause. Contact your physician and begin your journey back. Many women report having the best sex of their lives after menopause. You owe it to yourself and your partner. Don't suffer in silence, instead, take action and take control of your life.