Menopause: the dreaded, inevitable milestone in virtually every woman's life.
A recent survey revealed that nearly one-third of women feel they didn’t receive enough information about perimenopause and menopause before experiencing symptoms. We believe knowledge is power, so we're here to help equip you for this journey through menopause.
While hot flashes, decreased libido, and mood swings are some of the more well-known symptoms of menopause, there is much more happening inside our bodies that we need to address.
Menopause occurs in all menstruating individuals in their 40-50s, with the median age being 51. The majority of menopause symptoms arise due to a decrease in estrogen. Women are born with a limited number of eggs—when those eggs run out, estrogen declines, which causes the menstrual cycle to stop permanently, along with several other changes in the body.
Vaginal Atrophy: What's Happening Down There?
As estrogen levels decline, the effects on the vagina (internal) and vulva (external) can be pretty drastic. The medical terms for these changes are atrophic vaginitis or vaginal atrophy, which means the thinning of the vaginal tissues.
The most superficial layer of the vagina–called the mucosa–plays a crucial role in maintaining moisture and elasticity. It's like the gatekeeper, ensuring everything is comfortable and functioning smoothly.
However, when estrogen levels take a nosedive during menopause, the mucosa layer becomes dry, fragile, inflamed, and itchy. The lack of moisture and elasticity can cause discomfort, and even worse, it can turn intimacy into a painful experience. As the tissues become more delicate, they can tear easily, causing pain and sometimes bleeding during sexual activity.
We know this sounds terrible, but there are ways to combat vaginal atrophy and reclaim your comfort and pleasure. One of the most recommended ways to prevent the effects of vaginal atrophy is to have more sex! It increases blood flow to the vaginal tissues, which improves moisture and elasticity.
You can explore various treatment options by seeking guidance from your trusted gynecologist. Prescription creams, hormone replacement therapy, and even laser therapy may be helpful in your personal journey.
How to Maintain a Balanced pH
When estrogen levels drop, the vaginal pH increases, making it less acidic and putting you at a greater risk of infection.
pH is the measure of how acidic something is. On a scale of 0 to 14, 7 is considered neutral (think drinking water), and the lower numbers indicate acidity. Normal vaginal pH for a woman in her reproductive years is 4.0-4.5. When menopause comes along, the pH usually rises above 4.5.
All this means is you should give your lady parts some extra attention and care. Here are some simple tips for balancing your vaginal pH and avoiding infections:
- Take URO Vaginal Probiotic vitamins. These capsules contain 4 powerful strains of probiotics that boost vaginal health and promote a balanced pH, normal odor, and healthy vaginal flora.
- Refrain from using harsh soaps and scented cleansers. Use a neutral cleanser and water to clean your vulva. Try to avoid getting soap inside your vagina.
- Avoid douching at all costs! Douching disrupts all the beneficial bacteria in your vagina and puts you at a greater risk for a yeast infection.
- Don't hesitate to call your gynecologist with any concerns or abnormal symptoms.
Vaginal Changes During Menopause: What's Normal and What's Not?
During menopause, many women experience changes in their moods and bodies due to symptoms like fatigue, hot flashes, and vaginal atrophy. However, these symptoms are typical and usually go away after a while. Other normal changes during menopause include:
- Thinning of pubic hair
- Dryness and irritation
- Vaginal itching
- Increased frequency or urgency to urinate
- Irregular periods (until they stop altogether)
Now that you know what’s expected, it's essential to understand what is not so normal. It’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist if you’re experiencing the following:
- Increasingly heavy bleeding
- Foul odor or discharge
- Burning with urination or other UTI symptoms
Solutions and Self-Care
It will take some time to adjust to these new changes in your body. You can do several things to support your body (and mind!) as you begin to experience these changes:
- Take MENO menopause vitamins. This hormone-free supplement is formulated with black cohosh, ashwagandha, chasteberry, and vitamins B6 & D3—all of which can help relieve menopause symptoms.
- Have more sex! Regular sexual activity promotes blood flow, lubrication, and elasticity as your vaginal walls become thinner. Don't be afraid to use lubricant—here are some of our recommendations.
- Stay hydrated and eat nutrient-dense foods. It never hurts to drink more water and eat more veggies. Your body will thank you.
- Do your Kegels. Aim for 5 sets of 10 Kegels per day. These pelvic floor exercises or even yoga can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles as your vaginal walls become thinner.
- Talk to your gyno. They're the experts and can give you the best guidance on how to navigate the changes that come with menopause.
Menopause may bring its fair share of challenges, but being informed is crucial. Understanding how it affects your vagina empowers you to confidently take charge of your intimate health, and feel in control. Remember, you're not alone on this journey—lean on your gynecologist to guide you through the highs and lows of this transformative phase. Don’t be afraid to talk to trusted friends and family about what you’re going through. Let’s work together to break the stigma of menopause and help each other stay informed.