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Vaginal dryness/discomfort/painful sex?

MenopauseorjustmeMenopauseorjustme Posts: 433 Menopause Nurse Practitioner

Good afternoon.

I wanted to ask how many of you going through the menopause have any vaginal dryness, itch, soreness?

The lack of Oestrogen can have a real impact on the vagina, vulva and the whole pelvic floor. Incontinence is more common, having urgency, suspected urine infections, are conditions I see a lot in clinical practice.

Many women come to see me with what they think is a urine infection but in many cases once I ask a few more questions realise they have vaginal dryness and problems associated with lack of Oestrogen to the vagina.

Sex can become really uncomfortable and sometimes women can bleed a little as skin can split..This can have a huge impact on your relationships and sex life.

Does this sound familiar? Would you like to post messages? Discuss?

Please feel free to ask any questions.... because in my experience many women don't talk about this unless I ask the questions directly.

I am looking forward to helping answer your questions and hearing your thoughts.


Comments

  • Alb70Alb70 Posts: 1
    edited June 2020

    Happened to me felt terrible after sex, felt like I constantly needed to go to the toilet, went to doctors didn’t have an infection went on for 10 weeks then cleared up. No one seemed to know what was going on. I was referred to urologist etc.... happened again took 8 weeks to clear up. Spoke to a nurse who said to get a doc to refer me to a menopause clinic, they weren’t sure either. Currently on vagifem and a cream for outer parts. I don’t understand what’s going on and won’t have sex, trying somethings but so scared I end up with that feeling as it stops me from going out.

  • Loujay01Loujay01 Posts: 5

    I have had some problems. I use vagifem & that’s helped inside; but I have really bad itching on outside vulva area & it’s the same part every time, on one side in particular. I’ve tried oestrogen cream, doesn’t help; I’ve tried other creams to just ease the itching, nothing works long term. Trying so hard not to scratch it. One day literally a whole layer of skin peeled off. Don’t know what else to do.

  • MenopauseorjustmeMenopauseorjustme Posts: 433 Menopause Nurse Practitioner

    @Alb70

    Thank you so much for writing in.

    Hasn't anyone in the menopause clinic explained what happens to your vagina/vulva and pelvic floor during the menopause? I would of hoped they would.

    Our bodies become deficient in Oestrogen and vaginal dryness/soreness/itch/urinary infection symptoms/incontience can happen. This is because of the lack of Oestrogen, affecting the Ph of your vagina.

    Has the vagifem helped? It should.. as this Oestrogen will feed the cells there, encourage moisture and to plump the cells up again. If it hasn't you need to find out why?

    Please PM if you would like to discuss this further. This is an area of menopause I enjoy talking about and helping women with.


    Best wishes

    Diane Porterfield Bourne.

  • Sammy96Sammy96 Posts: 1

    I also had a dry, burning area of the vulva (sometimes itchy). I went to my Gyno and he did a biopsy. Nothing. He had no ideas, but the lab tech suggested it might be an allergic reaction to laundry detergent or fabric softener. I changed the detergent to one that is non-allergenic (no dyes, no fragrance). I started to have some relief after the first load. I wash our bath towels, workout pants, undergarments (anything that touches "lady land") in the non-allergenic detergent.

    I still have some discomfort in the same area - but my Dr. said that may happen due to the biopsy and to dab a bit of the estrogen cream on it. It's better, but still a work in progress. Maybe the suggestion will help others.

  • AS63AS63 Posts: 1

    Is vagifem only available on prescription?

  • Lind2019Lind2019 Posts: 2

    I have had the itchy dryness around the vestibule, always one side . I have tried just using natural creams like Sylk. And Yes! They do help but I still have burning pain during intercourse. I have been putting off using Vagifem but am going to start using it now as nothing else is working. I have also been taking Omega 7 Sea Buckthorn.

  • MonicaMMonicaM Posts: 337 ✭✭✭
    edited June 2020

    My problem isn’t itching my issues are the dryness and the low libido. The dryness really is painful and I feel like my vagina is so tight and small I don’t like that feeling at all because it hurts really bad. When it is time to have the little bit that we do do it. My body is already anticipating the pain so it doesn’t make sex fun for me at all anymore.

    I have purchased silk and hopefully that will work


  • MenopauseorjustmeMenopauseorjustme Posts: 433 Menopause Nurse Practitioner

    @Loujay01

    Good to hear from you and thank you for writing in.

    How long have you been using vagifem? Have you told your GP about the itch to one area? Has your GP had a look? There can be other skin conditions that affect the vulva too.

    What vaginal moisturisers have you been using? Some common ones you find over the counter can in fact alter the ph more, causing more dryness.....

    @MonicaM thank you for the above post about vaginal moisturisers.

    Please read the above information and if you feel this would benefit you, you can order them. There are other good brands too. One has water and oil based lubricants and moisturisers.

    It's worth looking into vaginal moisturisers as not all of them suit everyone. If you find a brand that helps then it's right for you.

    But it is always worth talking to your GP as you may need other treatments too.


    Best Wishes

    Diane Porterfield Bourne.

  • MenopauseorjustmeMenopauseorjustme Posts: 433 Menopause Nurse Practitioner

    @Sammy96

    Thank you for writing in. Its' reassuring to know all the biopsies were normal.

    But vaginal dryness, soreness, itch are common signs of lack of Oestrogen that occurs during the menopause. There can be other reasons that need to be treated but the most common reason is menopause! Some women will experience these symptoms, others won't; we are all different. I am glad your GP prescribed Oestrogen for you and it is improving. Just check with your GP you are taking the right amount as it sounds " dabbing it on" might not be enough? I would talk to your GP to ensure you are using enough of it. You may find your symptoms improve more if you could take more? Worth a question...

    Are you taking HRT too? or just vaginal. Again worth talking to your GP about.

    Some women do struggle with their under clothes being washed in types of detergents so I am pleased you have found something that helps.

    Thank you for your advice I am sure this will have helped many women.

    Best wishes

    Diane Porterfield Bourne.

  • MenopauseorjustmeMenopauseorjustme Posts: 433 Menopause Nurse Practitioner

    @AS63

    Good morning.

    Yes vagifem is a prescription only medication. If you think you are experiencing vaginal dryness/soreness/itch and are menopausal, your GP should be able to help you. If you want to chat more we are all here to listen, help and advise.


    Best Wishes

    Diane Porterfield Bourne.

  • MenopauseorjustmeMenopauseorjustme Posts: 433 Menopause Nurse Practitioner

    @Lind2019

    Thank you for writing into Live Better With Menopause.

    Are you experiencing any internal dryness/soreness too? If sex is uncomfortable I imagine the answer is yes. Vagifem is the name of a common vaginal Oestrogen but there are other makes too.

    Vaginal Oestrogen is very effective for the treatment of vaginal atrophy during menopause. I would say it should be something to consider rather than a last resort. Moisturisers are excellent but most women often use them with vaginal oestrogen.

    Has your GP had a little look to ensure it is definitely this and not another vaginal skin condition? Worth talking them about this.


    Good luck.

    Diane Porterfield Bourne.

  • MenopauseorjustmeMenopauseorjustme Posts: 433 Menopause Nurse Practitioner

    @MonicaM Low libido and vaginal dryness I think go together, simply as if sex is going to be sore and uncomfortable we really aren't going to get in the mood.

    Low libido in itself can be multifactoral. Life, stress, relationship difficulties, tiredness, weight gain, menopause and hormone fluctuations all affect our libido. I often hear women say I'd rather watch the TV and eat ice cream than have sex. Does this sound familiar?

    HRT can improve our hormones quite significantly. Women who have had a hysterectomy are more likely to have low testosterone too. This is a very important hormone that we need!! If we are deficient we can have testosterone replacement. It is most commonly prescribed to women if they have low libido. Your GP and or gynaecologist will discuss this with you but most women have blood tests to determine their levels before starting treatment.

    Vaginal dryness can be helped quite significantly with vaginal Oestrogen and or moisturisers.

    There is a lot of information on Live Better with Menopause about these issues many women face. Low libido is very common and can severely impact your relationships and quality of life. Its vital to talk with partners, friends and GP.

    Plus we are here to listen and advise.

    Diane Porterfield Bourne.

  • Blanka_CBlanka_C Posts: 406 Community Admin

    @Alb70 @Loujay01 @Sammy96 @AS63 @Lind2019 @MonicaM


    Hello ladies, hope you're doing well!

    Just wanted to let you know that we have a live menopause Q&A with @DianePorterfield-Bourne over Zoom this Friday! Thought you might be interested in joining.


    Here's a little more info:


    We will be covering a range of topics, including:


     ✅ The stages and common symptoms of the menopause

     ✅ Anxiety, mood changes and feeling stressed

     ✅ HRT - facts, risks and benefits

     ✅ Lifestyle choices to live better with the menopause


    You will have the opportunity to listen in and ask questions live, using the chat function - don’t worry, you won’t need to use your camera or mic. 😏


    Date and time: 6pm - 6.30pm BST, Friday 26th June

    Where: Zoom

    How to join: Simply click on the following link at 6pm on the day: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84236189200


    Let me know if you have questions!

    Blanka x

    Community Admin


  • BunnyD50BunnyD50 Posts: 2

    There are internal vaginal lubrication that can help with intercourse. Speaking to your partner about going slower and gentle helps too. You're not in this alone. I also understand that going on hormones is scary. There are other natural ways to help but those don't always work for everyone. I'd keep asking your doctor until you find what works. They need to realize that this is real. I'd also go to a female doctor to be honest. They're in the same boat we are. In my experience male doctors, not all, just don't listen when it comes to weight or vagnial issues. Best of luck.

  • Shadow63Shadow63 Posts: 1

    Have been a VA sufferer since 2013. I started Vagifem in 2014 and found it eased symptoms. I was later started on Kliovance HRT which also helped, so much so that I thought I was better so stopped treatment. I hadn't reslised treatment was for life. In 2020 my Atrophy took hold again and I re started Vagifem, Estriol and Kliovance. Symptoms, burning especially after spending a penny, a little itching and not being able to sit comfortably. I saw a Gynae who was lovely and very thorough. She said my treatment regime was good. Things subsided for 4 months, but I carried on treatment. Bliss when it subsides. Well, it has all flared up again. My burning seems to be more external. I use zerobase to wash with and Epaderm cream as a moisturiser. Had a phone consultaion with a lovely lady Doctor last week who was very sympathetic and clued up about Atrophy. She also said I was doing all the right things. My question is why does Atrophy flare up when my treatment regime is constant? Some days I think it has gone and the next day it can be back with avengeance. It feels as though I am sitting on a prickly cactus. Replies appreciated.

  • MonicaMMonicaM Posts: 337 ✭✭✭

    @Shadow63



    Hello thank you for reaching out to us on the forum. I am so sorry that you have been suffering with these symptoms since 2013. I can't imagine how uncomfortable you maybe feeling with your symptoms coming and going.

    I am going to tag our medical experts in this post to shed some light on what could be going on with you and I am sure they can give you some suggestions.

    @Menopauseorjustme and @Giada Frontino

  • Giada FrontinoGiada Frontino Posts: 73 Consultant Gynaecologist

    Dear @Shadow63

    When symptoms are mostly felt externally, the first thing to do is remove all potential irritants: laundry softeners/other laundry additives such as the all-in-one products when washing your underwear; pantyliners are also often a cause of external irritation. I would suggest washing your underwear with a regular laundry detergent that does not contain any softener or Even the most delicate intimate wash can often cause irritation, due to the fact that they leave a thin residue on the skin. I would also recommend switching to a simple solid soap bar called Simple Pure soap bar for Sensitive skin. This is extremely delicate and washes off completely, thus avoiding any reaction.

    I would also avoid Epaderm cream or any external cream/lubricant for at least two weeks in order to rule out what it is that is causing the symptoms. Skin reactions can often occur towards products which are actually made for sensitive skin.

    I hope you will feel better very soon and please do let us know how you do after a few days.

    Kind regards,

    Giada Frontino

    GMC Full Specialist Registration # 7468911 

    Website: https://www.doctify.com/uk/specialist/dr_giada_frontino 

  • MenopauseorjustmeMenopauseorjustme Posts: 433 Menopause Nurse Practitioner

    @Shadow63

    Thank you for your messages. I am pleased your GP is helping you and your questions about your flare ups.. they can happen from time to time but as you identified its about keeping on top of the treatments. This often keeps things in check.

    Have you discussed with your GP and or Gynae about altering your HRT to Oestrogen via the skin in patch or gel, and increasing this? Also seek advice about the amount of Oestrogen you are using vaginally and if this can be increased too.

    Some moisturisers/lubricants can make VA worse; so if you do use any seek their advice on ones that would support your Ph in the vagina.

    @Giada Frontino has made some good suggestions. All the little things can have a big impact.

    Let us know how it all goes.

    Best wishes

    Diane Porterfield Bourne.

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