When a woman is sexually stimulated, the vaginal walls secretes a thin layer of fluid to lubricate the vaginal tract. This extra lubrication helps in promoting pain-free penile penetration in the female tract that is required for the completion of the act of gratifying sexual experience for both consenting parties. However, most females who are approaching menopause complain of declining vaginal lubrication in response to sexual excitement or even physical stimulation. Needless to say, significant vaginal dryness can severely interfere with the quality of an aging woman’s sex life and may compromise the integrity of relationships.
What causes vaginal dryness during menopause?
In an average female, sexual excitement is a hormonal, emotional and physical event. The sexual desires originate in the brain and leads to the secretion of neurotransmitters (or hormones) that serve following functions:
- Increasing the blood flow to the genital organs
- Enhancing the sensitivity of sex organs to touch or physical stimulation
- Stimulating the release of other hormones to further improve the quality of experience
Unfortunately, significant changes in the secretion or metabolism of reproductive hormones like estrogen (due to pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause) can alter the sensitivity, secretion and stimulation of female genital tract and may lead to vaginal dryness.
According to a new study reported in the peer reviewed Obstetrics & Gynecology (2), the Australian investigators analyzed the hormonal and physiological transition in over 438 women from perimenopause to postmenopause stage over a period of 7 years. After the completion of study, investigators identified that symptoms like vaginal dryness worsened by 17% in the study population during various transitional stages of menopause; suggesting the need of an appropriate solution for such women.
The worsening of vaginal dryness in menopausal women can be explained scientifically by:
- Atrophic Vaginitis: Normal levels of estrogen are required to maintain the lining of female genital tract. Loss of estrogenic influence stops this natural remodeling process and leads to atrophic vaginitis (a condition marked by thinning of vaginal lining and impaired capacity to secrete enough fluid for sexual lubrication).
- Low Libido: Decline in the estrogenic secretion has a direct effect on the normal libido (sexual desires and feeling). Study reported in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (3) suggested that from a sample of 3,046 postmenopausal women, 55% female experienced vaginal dryness and 39% low libido.
- Changes in the biochemical and microbiological environment: Normal estrogen levels are helpful in maintaining slightly acidic vaginal pH and optimal microbiological environment that are directly associated with vaginal lubrication. With menopausal estrogenic decline, the risk of vaginal infection and inflammatory condition also increases that further affects lubrication.
Associated Symptoms and Complications of Vaginal Dryness due to Menopause:
Vaginal dryness is usually gradual and progressive in the absence of any interventions; some associated symptoms include:
- Itching, vaginal discomfort and burning sensation in vagina that is more pronounced in the lower third
- Recurrent episodes of symptomatic urinary tract infections
- Pain during intercourse that may restrict females from engaging in sexual encounters
- Onset of mild bleeding or irritation after sexual activity
Using Natural Hormone Therapy to Minimize Vaginal Dryness
Estrogen therapy helps in reestablishing the normal vaginal remodeling processes that may alleviate the symptoms of the dyspareunia and vaginal discomfort. Our hormone therapy physicians can help you in deciding the right dose and mode of intake.
Hormone Replacement Therapy: Hormone Replacement Therapy is ideal for menopausal women who are experiencing several symptoms of menopause that are refractory to home remedies such as hot flashes, night sweats, osteoporosis, depression to name a few.
If you are interested in finding out more about this problem, or if you would like to speak to a medical professional regarding your questions, please contact Renew Health and Wellness at either our Richmond or St. Louis locations. Richmond: 800-656-8386 St. Louis: 800-815-6456
Or you can download our ebook: The Essential Guide to Bio-identical Hormone Therapy, and find 23 answers to common questions about bio-identical hormones.