September 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.
Let’s 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:
Fortunately, 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:
|Hormone Free||Free of Harsh Chemicals||Long-Lasting Effect||Natural|
|Estrogen Vaginal Cream|| ||No||No||Yes||Maybe|
|Oil Based |
Lubricant (VitE, Olive Oil,
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.
As a female pharmacist specializing in women’s care, I often hear about women’s concerns regarding sexual dysfunction. According to statistics, 40 percent of women between the ages of 45-64, living in the US, have sexual concerns.
To address the concerns of many individuals with sexual dysfunction, we are always looking for different concoctions to help men and women with their sexuality.
Some helpful approaches may include addressing overall hormone balance, vaginal dryness, using arousal enhancing creams and compounded Testosterone and DHEA when appropriate. Another possible solution involves using a hormone called Oxytocin. You are probably familiar with the name since Oxytocin is used as a medication to facilitate childbirth. A recent study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior suggested that the intensity of orgasm and contentment after sexual intercourse were increased upon Oxytocin administration. That is why Oxytocin is also known as the “love hormone”. For women, Oxytocin levels increase one minute after orgasm but return close to normal within five minutes afterwards. For men, Oxytocin levels increase during sexual arousal and persist beyond ejaculation.
There are additional benefits to using Oxytocin. This amazing hormone that is produced in the hypothalamus (part of the brain), can be a great pain reliever. It plays a role in social bonding, sexual reproduction in both sexes, and during and after childbirth. Furthermore, Oxytocin lowers serum cortisol which is often called “stress hormone”. That is why it can improve mood. The “love hormone”, Oxytocin, is a hormone that can also promote feelings of intimacy. In recent years we have seen an increase in demand for compounding Oxytocin for many different medical conditions. At Community Clinical Pharmacy, we compound Oxytocin lozenges as well as nasal sprays. The lozenges can be made using the flavor of your choice. Some of the popular flavors are marshmallow, raspberry, banana and mint. Oxytocin lozenges are to be dissolved in the cheek or under the tongue 5-15 minutes prior to intimacy. Of course, sexual arousal and function in women is very complicated and not everyone would benefit from the same treatment. Therefore it is important to talk to an expert and discover what options may be appropriate for you. For more information and to set up a consultation appointment with me to discuss your options, please contact Community Clinical Pharmacy.