In partnership with AMAG Pharmaceuticals and the PAINFULLY AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS campaign, I have created this post to make it easier for women to start a conversation about the reality of painful sex due to menopause. All opinions are my own.
Painful sex due to menopause is a common and treatable condition. Knowing the facts and the right information about your body, hormonal changes during and after menopause, and the simple HOWTO’s could transform a woman’s life dramatically.
A woman’s body is a complex and multi-faceted mechanism that includes physical, biological/hormonal, psychological/emotional changes during her entire life. Learning about your health at every stage of life is a must for a healthier, happier you
What Is Menopause?
The end of menstrual cycle marks the beginning of the menopause. It can happen any time between early 30’s and early 50’s due to natural hormonal changes or as the result of surgery (removal of ovaries) or certain medications.
Sex after menopause does not have to hurt. If you are a woman, learning about the biological changes inside your body during and after menopause will prepare you to react with the right measures to make a change. Let us share the foundation and the “secret” behind painful sex after menopause.
What Are the Symptoms of Menopause?
Obviously the first symptom for the onset of a menopause is saying goodbye to your period. But this is not the only symptom our new bodies are getting adjusted to. Take a look at some of the most common symptoms women may experience with the onset of menopause.
• Hot flashes
• Heavy sweating
• Trouble sleeping
• More frequent vaginal or bladder infections
• Weight gain
• Mood swings
• Changes in joints and muscles: aches and pains
What is the Connection Between Painful Sex and Menopause?
As a woman’s body is transitioning from a child-bearing stage to a postmenopausal stage, here are the key physical changes that happen to her with her sexual health; to be precise, to her vagina. All these changes may cause dryness and irritation leading to a painful sexual experience.
• Loss of vaginal tissue
• Loss of lubrication
• Loss of flexibility of the remaining tissue
These physical changes occur to the drastic reduction of estrogen and other sex hormones. Take a look at this simple flowchart to better understand HOW the flow of estrogen and other sex hormones change in your body with age.
BEFORE menopause, estrogen originates from 2 Sources: your ovaries and from DHEA, a substance produced by the adrenal glands.
AFTER menopause, the ovaries stop production of estrogen. DHEA remains the ONLY source for estrogen production.
With AGE, the production of DHEA continues to decrease.(*1)
As we are getting older, the decrease of sexual hormones could lead to painful sex after menopause.
Facts About Vulvar And Vaginal Atrophy (VVA)
• For many women, VVA symptoms do not start for several years after the onset of the menopause
• About 32 Million of women – approximately one out of two post-menopausal women in the US – suffer from VVA, which can cause painful sex (*2)
• VVA symptoms will not get better with time, unlike hot flashes; VVA symptoms usually get worse without treatment.
• Many women are unaware that painful sex may be linked to menopause. According to a survey of more than 3,000 women, only 24% of women attributed these symptoms to menopause (*3)
• VVA effects not just physical, but also emotional health (*4)
Painful Sex Due to Menopause and VVA
Don’t be worried when seeing this abbreviation VVA! Get the facts first!
VVA stands for “vulvar and vaginal atrophy.” It is a common and treatable condition affecting about 32 million women in America.
With the decrease of sexual hormones in a woman’s body, there comes a natural loss of vaginal tissue, lubrication and flexibility. As a result of these changes, symptoms like dryness and irritation, frequent urination, and painful sex can follow.
Vaginal Tissue Before MENOPAUSE
Vaginal Tissue After MENOPAUSE
Unlike menopause symptoms, VVA symptoms will not get better without treatment and may get worse.
What Can You Do About Painful Sex Due to Menopause?
Educate yourself on painful sex due to menopause, and learn how to feel comfortable discussing this condition with your healthcare provider.
One of the most important things every peri- and post- menopausal woman can do is talk to her healthcare professional. A good connection to your healthcare provider is as important as a good night’s sleep – it’s a must! You can learn from a credible source the facts, the symptoms, and the treatment options that are available.
Another powerful thing any woman can do is to start the conversation about the changes in the body that happen after menopause with her close friends and her life partner. Watch actress Cheryl Hines start the conversation around painful sex due to menopause with her friends during brunch! The women support and encourage each other to take back their sex life in AMAG Pharmaceutical’s PAINFULLY AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS campaign.
The more you know about painful sex after menopause, learn how you can start the conversation with your healthcare provider, and when to include your close friends and life partner – things only change for the better.
Menopause won’t go away – it is here to stay. It is up to you to make the life with it much more vibrant and to celebrate your body in every stage of your life. Sexual health after menopause is one of the vital components for a happier and more fulfilled you.
The talk can be awkward – but it’s WORTH it!
1. Wysocki S, “Kingsberg A, Krychman M. Management of Vaginal Atrophy: Implications from the REVIVE Survey. Clinical Medicine Insights: Reproductive Health. 2014; 23
2. Kingsberg SA, Wysocki S, Magnus L, and Krychman ML. Vulvar and vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women: Findings from the REVIVE (Real Women’s Views of Treatment Options for Menopause Vaginal Changes) survey. J Sex Med 2013; 10:1790–1799.
3. Nappi RE, Kingsberg S, Maamari R, Simon J. THE CLOSER (Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy’s Impact On Sex and Relationships implications of vaginal discomfort in postmenopausal women and in male partners. J Sex Med. 2013; 10(9):2232-2241
4. The North American Menopause Society. Changes in the Vagina and Vulva.