Menopause can sometimes feel like a stage of life shrouded in mystery. Unexpected symptoms mixed with hormonal imbalance can often lead to women feeling confused, concerned and up late at night googling ‘is XXX normal?’. If your body feels like it’s in a constant state of flux, you’re not alone.
Did you know that it’s been reported that 80% of women entering menopause are affected by vaginal dryness? And 50% are affected post-menopause? These changes to your intimate health may be disconcerting, but you can still enjoy a healthy lifestyle and sex life – you simply need the right treatments in your repertoire.
What is Menopause?
Before we go any further, let’s go back to basics. Scientifically speaking, menopause occurs when the female sex hormone oestrogen decreases. Before you reach menopause, oestrogen regulates your ovulation, menstruation and plays a big part in things like periods and pregnancy. So, when your levels of oestrogen naturally decrease, your menstrual cycles start drawing to a close, resulting in symptoms like irregular periods, before periods stop completely.
The average age for menopause in the UK is 51 years old, but some women can experience premature menopause and perimenopause (menopause transition), much earlier. If you’re under 50, you’re diagnosed as going through menopause once you haven’t had a period for two years. If you’re over 50 the diagnosis occurs once you haven’t had a period for a year.
What Are Typical Menopause Symptoms?
A common symptom of menopause is a change (usually a decrease) in the pattern of your monthly periods. The changes in your hormones can also cause other symptoms, such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, mood changes, fatigue, sleeping problems and urinary tract infections or cystitis.
Every woman will experience menopause differently, symptoms often vary, but if you want to learn more about the typical symptoms and how to treat them, we’ve put together a guide on managing menopause.
How to Treat Menopausal Dryness?
The symptoms of vaginal dryness vary and include: itching, soreness, burning, pain during sex and increased susceptibility to infection. Intimate health may feel like a taboo subject, but these symptoms are not something you should ignore or endure in silence.
Vaginal dryness occurs because the vaginal tissues are affected by the decreased levels of oestrogen in the body, producing less natural lubrication and offering less protection against infection. You can improve moisture levels and comfort by opting for personal lubricants and vaginal moisturisers. The former can provide short-term relief during intercourse, relieving painful symptoms. While the latter rehydrates the vaginal tissues in a similar way to your favourite moisturiser as part of your skincare routine. Both can help restore a sense of balance to your intimate health and give you back an element of control over the changes to your body.