Log in with your Medical News Today account to create or edit your custom homepage, catch-up on your opinions notifications and set your newsletter preferences. Sign up for a free Medical News Today account to customize your medical and health news experiences. Perimenopause happens in the years before periods stop and is characterized by hot flashes and other symptoms. Menopause begins when the menstrual cycle has stopped for at least a year.
While every woman's experience is Can you still enjoy sex after menopause, an estimated percent of menopausal women say sex can be painful. Luckily, there are options to help treat the most common complications. In this article, we look at menopause effects and some helpful treatments. During perimenopause, the hormones that bring about fertility and pregnancy decrease, including the hormone estrogen.
This produces changes in the blood vessels and tissues of the vagina and vulva, making the organs more vulnerable to damage. Most sexual complications of menopause stem from vulvovaginal atrophy, a condition marked by a loss of elasticity, moisture, and thickness of the vulva and vaginal tissues.
During perimenopause, tissues of the vagina and vulva receive less estrogen. As a result, these tend to thin, lose their folds, and dry out. Thinner tissues are more easily broken, bruised, and irritated.
The tissues also receive less lubrication, which intensifies the friction they are exposed to during intercourse, so increasing the risk of damage. Some women also experience atrophic vaginitiswhich causes inflammation of the vaginal tissues. Again, atrophic vaginitis stems from reduced estrogen levels and can cause pain, swelling, itching and burning. Not all women see the same physical changes during menopause, and the severity of symptoms can vary.
Women should see their doctor if symptoms begin to interfere with daily life or reduce the quality of life.
The physical symptoms of menopause can cause emotional side effects as well. Changing hormone levels can interfere with sleep and mood, causing tirednessanxietyCan you still enjoy sex after menopause, and depression. What menopause represents can also cause emotional problems. These side effects can be just as debilitating as physical effects, especially when it comes to sex. During times of stress or sadness, people often lose interest in activities that would otherwise bring them pleasure.
In this respect, pain and discomfort can make it difficult to enjoy sex.
Many of the physical changes that occur with aging can also intensify the emotional symptoms of menopause. If sexual arousal or sensitivity is also affected, some women will shy away from sexual activity altogether, which can worsen symptoms.
One survey found that 70 percent of menopausal women who experienced pain during sex said the problem also caused tensions with their partner. Not all women experience negative emotional symptoms linked to menopause. Some women gain additional wisdom, confidence, and ability to speak for themselves. Those who do experience negative symptoms should talk to a doctor if they interfere with healthy sexual activity or everyday life.
Staying sexually active is one of the easiest ways to lessen the sexual complications of menopause. The physical and emotional side effects of menopause cause many women to reduce or refrain from sexual activity. However, the vagina needs consistent use to remain healthy, especially after menopause. Regular sexual stimulation helps promote blood flow to the vagina.
It also helps maintain the vagina's elasticity, depth, and overall shape. Behavioral changes and over-the-counter products are often the first recommended treatments. In worse cases, a doctor may prescribe hormone therapies to help reduce vaginal dryness or hormonal creams to apply to the tissues.
Around 55 percent of women do not seek medical treatment for menopause symptoms, although most side effects lessen over time and eventually go away.
For some women, however, menopause symptoms are intense and persistent, so medical treatment is advised. Doctors may prescribe medications or creams that are composed of estrogen, progesteroneor both. Individual treatment plans depend on a variety of factors, including additional health complications. Women who no longer have a uterus will not require extra progesterone, for example.
Though many herbs and Can you still enjoy sex after menopause are praised as cure-alls for menopause symptoms, little research has affirmed their benefits. Some menopause supplements have even proven harmful with continual use.
The United States Food and Drug Administration do not monitor herbal medications and supplements for purity or quality. People should choose products from a reputable source. Many of the above herbs can also interact with medications, so a woman should speak to her doctor before self-prescribing herbs or supplements.
Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies have created bio-identical hormone therapies in response to the cardiovascular and cancer risks associated with traditional hormone therapies. Unlike traditional hormone replacement therapies that rely on synthetic hormones, these medications use hormones from plants.
These may be better tolerated by the body, but they are not identical to human hormones. There are many approved bio-identical medications that are proven safe and effective. According to the North American Menopause Society, individuals should avoid custom-compounded bio-identical hormone medications.
These medications are mixtures Can you still enjoy sex after menopause hormones prepared by pharmacists and tailored to individual needs. Drug mixtures prepared by pharmacists, doctors, non-governmental laboratories, or at home are not subject to regulation, so there is no guarantee that they are safe or effective. Article last reviewed by Sat 20 May Visit our Menopause category page for the latest news on this subject, or sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest updates on Menopause.
All references are available in the References tab. Approved prescription products for menopausal symptoms in the United States and Canada [Fact sheet]. Sorting myths from facts. Changes in the vagina and vulva. Keep the passion alive. Menopause hormone therapy MHT. Menopause symptom relief and treatments. Sex after the menopause. Vaginal and vulvar comfort: Lubricants, moisturizers, and low-dose vaginal estrogen. Women's health stats and facts. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media.
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