Most women know that there’s a time in their life when they’ll go through a hormonal shift, resulting in huge changes to their bodies. This change typically occurs in women in their early 50s, although it can sometimes occur earlier or even throughout your late 50s. The change we’re talking about? Menopause. While there are a number of unsavory side effects that can come along with this shift in your body’s production of estrogen, some side effects should never be ignored. A recent survey* from Healthy Women and Duchesnay USA showed that many women are dismissing painful intercourse that comes along with menopause. While it certainly is natural for it to occur, it doesn’t have to continue, and it should always be discussed with your doctor to find a remedy that works for you.
What Is Menopause?
The term menopause refers to when women stop having a menstrual cycle. This doesn’t usually happen suddenly. Your body will often go through a phase called pre-menopause or perimenopause, which refers to the time surrounding the actual transition of menopause. The journey to menopause typically goes in stages, with perimenopause starting on average 3-4 years before menopause. This is when your ovaries start producing less estrogen, causing the body to eventually cease producing eggs, resulting in the end of having a period. Once you haven’t had a period in 12 months, doctors consider you to be going through menopause.
Should I Expect Painful Intercourse?
In the Healthy Women survey 62% of participants reported that they were experiencing pain during or after having sex, with 60% of respondents saying they had not discussed this pain with their doctors. Part of what might make sex uncomfortable after menopause is the shift in your hormones, since estrogen contributes to vaginal health by maintaining thickness and elasticity of vaginal tissues. While using lubricants or moisturizers can be a quick fix to the issue, there may be something more that your doctor can provide. There are prescription drugs available, depending on your individual situation, that can aid in having more natural feeling and comfortable intercourse.
What Other Side Effects Come Along With Menopause?
Most people have heard the common symptoms of menopause. These include vaginal dryness and discomfort, hot flashes coupled with chills and night sweats, mood changes, physical changes in your body including weight gain and thinning hair, and a slower metabolism. These symptoms can all be normal, but you should still visit your doctor if they’re concerning or you find them to be interfering with your daily life.
Don’t Let This Change Totally Change Your Life
While there are a lot of issues that come along with menopause, it doesn’t have to be a traumatic event. If you sense that you’re entering into perimenopause, you should begin having discussions with your doctor at The Woman’s Clinic about what to expect. Schedule an appointment at The Woman’s Clinic today to begin discussing how your body will make this important transition.
* This survey titled "What Do You Know about Your Sexual Health After Menopause?" was conducted within the United States by HealthyWomen in partnership with Duchesnay. It was conducted online from December 4, 2017, to March 18, 2018, among 832 women ages 45 and older and 305 women's health care providers.