The Menopausal Vagina- The Forgotten Organ
As I listen to the concerns of my peri-menopausal, and menopausal patients, I am amazed at the number of women who have severe vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, and pain with intercourse. This terrible triad often results in a torture in the bedroom, a sexless marriage, and ultimately a needless divorce. Other repercussions of declining vaginal health may include frequent urinary tract infections, urine leakage, and weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. These suffering women have plenty of doctors. They see their internist every year for a “complete physical exam.” He or she checks the patient’s heart, lungs, and nervous system, but the exam is actually somewhat incomplete, since the internist hardly every checks the health of the vaginal tissues. She then goes to her gynecologist for her “annual” where she gets a PAP and a breast exam to screen for cancer, but the issues of vaginal dryness, and pain with intercourse is usually not discussed, and is not addressed. Bottom line, none of these medical professionals are addressing her vaginal health, and the woman is left to suffer in silence, as she spirals downward into a life of increasing dryness, painful sex, no sex, self doubt, and sometimes divorce.
It breaks my heart to see this happen, because in the vast majority of cases a decline in vaginal health with changing hormones is totally unnecessary. With proper care, vaginal health can easily and safely be maintained, and in most cases it can actually be restored as women go through life’s changes. Vaginal dryness- gone. Pain with intercourse- a thing of the past. The love life can be enjoyable and robust once again.
The first step is to find a doctor who will take the time to listen to your concerns, and will take you seriously. I’ve had patients who were told by their doctor “ why are you concerned about libido, you’re 52.” Or they are given a pat on the back and told “you’re just getting old.” That’s not acceptable. You have the right to maintain optimal vaginal health just as much as you have the right to maintain good heart health. It is also your right to have a healthy sexual relationship as long as you want to, and this right should be supported by your doctor.
The next step is to get on a customized vaginal health program to bring this important organ get the respect it deserves. If you have vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, or increasing urinary tract infections talk to your medical provider about a vaginal health program, or come see us at McMinn Clinic for a thorough evaluation and a personalized treatment plan. Take care of your whole body for your whole life, including “the Forgotten Organ.”