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What causes painful sex after menopause?

Painful sex after menopause
Painful sex after menopauseShutterstock

Some women notice changes after menopause that can be life altering. Painful sex during intercourse has been reported as a fairly common post-menopausal symptom. For many, the condition continues and they simply do nothing to ease the discomfort, or they give up what could otherwise be a normal and healthy sex life. Some may feel embarrassed to tell their physicians, and others may simply not know that effective treatments are available. By understanding the causes of painful sex after menopause, and what can be done to help, women have the option of dealing with this permanent condition to resume their regular levels of intimacy.

The causes of painful sex after menopause
Due to the decline of estrogen in the body, key body functions have been affected. Estrogen helps to keep the tissues of the vagina smooth, elastic and healthy. When this hormone is decreased, vaginal tissues can become more fragile and the vaginal walls tend to thin. This is known as vaginal atrophy. In addition, the normal lubricating fluids that are produced prior to menopause may be in low supply without the help of estrogen. This is what commonly leads to painful sex after menopause.

Treatments for dryness and vaginal atrophy
There are many options for women who experience dryness and painful intercourse. This condition is permanent and will not go away on it's own. Several different brands of lubricants are available over the counter. These have been effective in relieving the dryness for many women. It is also worth noting, that when women remain sexually active during perimenopause, the sexual activity helps to keep a healthy supply of blood flow to the vaginal area and is useful in keeping the tissues healthier. It is more common for issues to develop when women do not regularly engage in physical intimacy at this time.

If this isn't enough, your physician can prescribe hormone replacement therapy. HRT is a synthetically manufactured hormone that works like estrogen in your body. It can help to relieve the symptoms by bringing a balance to hormone levels in the system of the body. This can stimulate the production of the body's natural lubricating fluids and increase the elasticity of vaginal tissues. It can be administered in pill form, hormone cream or a vaginal ring that contains hormones. There are risks of side effects and certain types of cancers developing over the long term with HRT. Your physician can tell you if you are a good candidate for this type of treatment, or if another avenue is recommended.

Alternative treatments
Women who either are not candidates for standard hormone replacement therapy have other options. Natural supplements are available that deliver the same type of estrogen replacement as HRT, but carry fewer side effects and long term risks. Plants containing phytoestrogens and isoflavones have shown to be beneficial in bringing balance to hormone levels in menopausal women. These compounds, similar to HRT, act like estrogen in the body and can give you the jump start that is needed. Soy beans, flaxseed, wild yam, black cohosh and many other plants are used to obtain extracts to create concentrated supplements. They are available in a variety of capsules, powders and teas.

Eating foods that are rich in isoflavones and phytoestrogens is also a safe and natural supplements such as macafem that can be effective. For example, using soy products when making your regular meals will help to get the helpful ingredients into your system. This delivers a much lower and milder dose, but it can be helpful if you're not a fan of taking supplements.

Conclusion
Painful intercourse during menopause is one symptom that can bring about life altering changes, unless you do something about it. By knowing the causes of this condition, and the treatments that are available, anyone who has enjoyed a healthy sex life during menopause up to this point, can continue to do so. Over the counter lubricants can help to ease the discomfort of dryness as a temporary fix when needed. For longer lasting relief, hormone replacements are available to help the body to do its part. Both synthetic and natural hormone replacements can easily be found. Standard HRT is prescribed by a physician but natural supplements can be found online and in your local health food store. There is no need to suffer in silence when there are effective remedies that can help.