is Menopause Awareness Month. There are an estimated 64 million postmenopausal
women in the United States (US), and as many as 32 million women may suffer
from symptoms including pain during sexual intercourse, vaginal dryness, and
vaginal irritation. This number is increasing as approximately 6000 women enter
menopause each day in the US. I have worked with thousands of menopausal women
for the past 20 years and a good majority of them have confided in me about
their discomfort and how it affects their intimate relationships.
first take a quick look at the root cause of the problem in menopausal women.
During the childbearing years, a thin layer of clear fluid
covers the walls of the vagina. This thin layer keeps the lining of
your vagina elastic, thick and healthy. As you approach menopause,
there is usually a drop in your estrogen (female hormone) level which reduces
the amount of lubrication available. This can lead to vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy as well as
dryness of the external female genitals (vulva). Vaginal dryness may cause
fragile vulvovaginal tissues. The tissues may then become more susceptible to
irritation, pain during intercourse or dyspareunia (dis-puh-ROO-nee-uh) and
sometimes bleeding which is the result of injury and tearing of the vaginal
tissue and vulva. Sometimes, even women who are not sexually active are
bothered by vaginal dryness and the irritation that may accompany it.
In addition to natural menopause, there
may be other factors causing vaginal dryness such as:
- Chemotherapy and radiation
for cancer treatment
- Certain diseases such as
diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome
- Some cold and allergy
medicines can dry up mucus leading to vaginal dryness
- Chemical irritants,
perfumes, and dyes in soaps, feminine hygiene products
- Swimming in the pool due to
the chlorine used to keep the water clean
- Anxiety and stress can
interfere with your libido or sexual desire and may lead to vaginal dryness
- Surgical menopause and removal
of ovaries (oophorectomy)
there are many options out there to help women suffering from vaginal dryness.
They may include hormones, lubricants, oils or
vaginal moisturizers (creams that are used to restore moisture in the
vagina). Here is a comparison chart:
|Estrogen Vaginal Cream || |
|No ||No ||Yes ||Maybe |
|Oil Based |
Lubricant (VitE, Olive Oil,
| Yes||Yes ||Maybe || No||Yes |
| Yes||Yes ||No ||No ||No |
| Yes||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes |
An example of an all-natural vaginal moisturizer is FabuVag® (www.naturalvaginalsolutions.com), which is an herbal cream. When looking for such a product, it is important to find a moisturizer that is free of harsh chemicals such as parabens, perfumes, synthetic dyes and coloring, glycerin, Petrolatum, phthalates, and propylene glycol.
Pay attention to the labels and read them carefully since you apply the preparations to the most intimate area of your body and may absorb a good portion of it. when in doubt, ask an expert. For more information or to ask questions, feel free to contact me. I will be happy to help you navigate through the menopause maze.
Dr. Sharzad Green, Pharm.D. is
a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and specializes in
bio-identical hormone therapy and natural alternatives for men and women. You
may contact her at (480) 264-7600, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.