You’re in menopause after the cessation of your monthly menstrual period for a year. But menopause stops more than your period. It also pauses — or at least puts a severe damper on — the hormones your body produced plentifully when you were in your fertile years.
One consequence of perimenopause or menopause is vaginal dryness. But just because something is an expected and even “normal” consequence of aging, that doesn't mean you have to live with it. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and other remedies can restore your vaginal and vulvar tissues.
Our team at Mian OB/GYN & Associates in Silver Spring, Maryland, believes that women should be comfortable and sexual throughout their lives. After all, with today’s increased lifespans, you could spend 2-4 or even more decades past the age of 50.
Rafiq Mian, MD, our expert gynecologist, addresses the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause on a case-by-case basis. If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness after age 50, here’s a brief guide as to why you don’t have to accept your new normal.
Most vaginal dryness is due to hormonal changes
Although many things can cause vaginal dryness, if you’re age 50 or over, the most likely cause is the drop in estrogen, testosterone, and other hormones that occurs during perimenopause and menopause.
However, during your workup, Dr. Mian also explores other potential causes or contributors, such as:
- Cold or allergy medications
- Cancer treatment
- Sjögren’s syndrome
He may also administer a blood test to evaluate your hormone levels.
Vaginal dryness may be just one symptom
If your vaginal dryness is due to the hormonal changes of perimenopause and menopause, it's referred to as atrophic vaginitis, also known as vaginal atrophy. In addition to producing less lubrication, your vaginal skin also becomes thinner and more easily irritated.
Vaginal atrophy may be just one of the genitourinary symptoms you experience due to reduced hormones. Others could be:
- Painful sex (dyspareunia)
- Urge incontinence (frequent urination)
- Stress incontinence (leaking urine while coughing, laughing, etc.)
- Thin vulva
- Dry vulva
- Reduced orgasms
- Urinary tract infections
Of course, unbalanced hormones are also behind the other symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia. Even hair loss and dry, sagging skin is a result of depleted hormones.
Feel normal again
No matter what the cause or causes are behind your vaginal dryness, you deserve relief. If your main or only complaint is vaginal dryness and painful sex, Dr. Mian may recommend:
- Vaginal moisturizers
- Vulvar moisturizers
If painful sex is just one of several symptoms, or if you'd like to preemptively address the symptoms of menopause as well as your dry vagina, you might do better on some kind of hormonal therapy. Depending on your needs, Dr. Mian may recommend:
- Estrogen cream or tablets
- Vaginal ring with low-dose estrogen
- Bioidentical HRT pellets
Hormonal therapies may take several weeks to alleviate symptoms. You may choose to use topical therapies, such as lubricants, in the meantime.
Vaginal dryness after 50 may be natural, but you don’t have to accept it as normal. Find out what’s causing your vaginal dryness and get the remedies you need to feel good about yourself, sex, and aging again.
Contact us via phone or online form to restore health and lubrication to your vagina with bioidentical HRT and other therapies today.