Loss Of Lubrication
Vaginal dryness is quite common as menopause approaches and this can be a subject that is hard for a woman to discuss during an appointment with her physician. The loss of lubrication is caused by decreasing estrogen levels during menopause. The depletion of a woman's estrogen stores causes a variety of symptoms including the thinning and loss of elasticity of the vaginal tissues which become somewhat fragile as a result. This situation is common in 20% of menopausal women who may also experience a decrease in their vaginal secretions. For some women, this is a temporary symptom while for others, the loss of vaginal lubrication is permanent.
When the vagina can no longer produce an adequate amount of lubrication, the result may be painful intercourse, occasional bleeding, and itching. Women who experience this situation are also more vulnerable to vaginal infections. But there are ways to counteract the effects of the estrogen loss:
*Have more sex—research finds that women who have more sex produce greater amounts of vaginal secretions.
*Drink—staying hydrated applies to your entire body, including your vagina. Drinking more water means you'll make more vaginal lubrication.
*OTC lubricants—take advantage of over-the-counter lubricants like K-Y Jelly. These products can take the pain out of postmenopausal sex. Another OTC product called Replens is used daily to counteract dryness.
*Go natural—some women swear by vitamin E oil. You can pop open some capsules and rub the oil on the inside of your vagina. Continue for a couple of weeks, and then apply the oil just once or twice a week.
Another effective method for treating vaginal dryness is the use of vaginal estrogen. For most women, a low-dose vaginal cream like Estrace or Premarin is preferred. These very low doses of vaginal estrogen are well-absorbed by a woman's body and can help to restore overall estrogen levels.
For most women, 0.1 mg. of the vaginal cream gives them tremendous relief from the symptom of vaginal dryness. Start by dabbing just a bit of the cream on the inside of your vagina each day for one month. After that, cut back to applying the cream just once or twice weekly. If you keep using the cream on a daily basis past one month's time, the cream will begin to lose its effectiveness. The cream doesn't stand in as a replacement for vaginal lubricants and you will need to continue to use the K-Y Jelly when you want to have sex.
Other women may prefer to use a sustained-release medication like Estring or Vagifem. Vagifem is a vaginal tablet. Estring is a vaginal ring that is inserted into the vagina and left in place for three months, releasing small amounts of estradiol during this time. Since the estrogen is released in very small amounts, it is not absorbed by the rest of the body.