1. Health

Ouch, Honey! (When Sex Starts to Hurt)

By March 14, 2008

When I'm with a bunch of women and they find out that I wrote a book about menopause, several things happen. First they ask me if it's true, "Really? What's it called?" Next someone talks about her hot flashes, and everyone commiserates, laughs and we discuss different treatments that might be helpful. We go on to other topics, bonded in "flash" sisterhood.

But later, almost invariably, I'll be walking away and one of the women will pull me aside. In a whisper, looking around to see if anyone is listening (it almost feels like she is about to ask me to hook her up with some high quality cocaine or chrystal meth) she will ask, "Is there anything yet for, you know, vaginal stuff?" At this point I am relieved, because I won't have to discuss her drug habit after all. Usually she is worried about having pain or bleeding with sex, and often it is becoming a relationship issue with her husband.

Women these days are pretty free to talk about hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and weight gain. We make jokes about those things, nod sympathetically, and trade herbal stories and doctor's names. But talking about painful sex, vaginal dryness or urinary tract symptoms is still a shameful little secret that we can't always share.

I'm not sure I ever want vaginal dryness to be dinner table conversation, but I do think it's time to bring this issue up with our doctors and medical providers. Most of the women I talk to have never discussed this with their primary physician, and most of them are pretty uncomfotable doing so. There are treatments that can help vaginal symptoms, and if it's a problem for you then it's a problem worth discussing with your doc.

So what's a girl to do? Don't suffer in silence if vaginal symptoms are hurting you or your relationships:

  • Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and what treatments are good ones for you
  • Try a vaginal lubricant. Here is a review article on personal lubricants that can help you choose the right one
  • Check out herbal products. Black cohosh is one that is showing promise to relieve vaginal symptoms in menopause

Whatever you do, don't just give up and quietly let vaginal symptoms undermine your emotional health. Vaginal dryness is a big deal for a lot of women, and it's okay to ask for help.

March 14, 2008 at 7:40 pm
(1) jane says:

I’m not sure why vaginal dryness is such an issue when it’s so easy to buy lubricants. So what if you’re dry? Lube up!

March 15, 2008 at 9:22 pm
(2) Kate says:

Those sex toy parties are a HOOT! It’s really and truly not embarassing. Very educational, very fun, no pressure to reveal, and purchasing is kept very private.

March 17, 2008 at 1:30 pm
(3) Lisa says:

Love the articles. . always so relevant to what is going on with me! Nice to know I’m not the only one! Thanks for the good info.

March 19, 2008 at 11:41 am
(4) Micah says:

How enlightening! I didn’t know my vaginal dryness was normal, much less that there are ways to deal with it! Thanks for the great info, loved this article!

March 19, 2008 at 10:20 pm
(5) Robin says:

I have also dealt with the vaginal dryness problem for some time. You are right it needs to be discussed openly with your doctor and your partner. There are things to be done to help. Thanks for the great article!

March 21, 2008 at 6:19 pm
(6) Sergey Kalitenko MD says:

Vaginal dryness is the result of estrogen level decline. The solution is hormone replacement therapy with hormones with the same molecular structure as our own, because they can be metabolized properly. I do not prescribe conjugated estrogens and/or progestins because of side effects.

May 4, 2008 at 1:33 pm
(7) Xandra says:

Vaginal dryness can be treated by supplements which increased libido. Sentia was VERY effective for me. I don’t feel pain and itching any more.

July 21, 2008 at 4:39 am
(8) ulala says:

Sentia is a solution. I have had two courses and feel myself much better.

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