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Treatment for vaginal dryness, painful sex, frequent UTIs, and urgency.


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Painful sex

Menopause can cause vaginal changes that really affect your sex life. Painful sex, also known as dyspareunia, is a common symptom of menopause and vaginal atrophy. Fortunately, there are effective solutions.

Your questions about vaginal dryness answered

  • Is it normal to feel pain during sex?

    Although pain during sex can be a totally natural consequence of vaginal changes due to menopause, it does not have to your new normal. You should never have to just deal with it, be ashamed of it, or be afraid to discuss it with your partner. You deserve to have enjoyable and pain-free sex. Solutions are available.

  • Why is sex so painful after menopause?

    Estrogen is responsible for keeping the tissues healthy and moisturized. But when estrogen levels decline after menopause, the vaginal environment changes. The skin becomes thin and dry. Blood flow to the tissues is reduced, and this prevents the vagina from being lubricated.

  • What does painful sex feel like and where does it hurt?

    In a 2022 study, researchers surveyed postmenopausal women to learn more about where painful sex hurts. Most participants had signs of vaginal atrophy and described their pain as "burning", "raw", or "dry". Tenderness was most severe at the entrance to the vagina.

    Medical examinations of women with vaginal atrophy offer further insight into why sex feels painful after menopause. Exams show that the vaginal rugae (the folds that make the vagina flexible) are diminished. The vaginal canal can appear narrowed or shortened. Vaginal atrophy can also lead to frequent UTIs which creates discomfort in the vaginal area. The presence of these physical changes can help explain why women describe painful sex as "burning" or "raw" and why the vagina may feel tender during or after penetration.

  • Will natural vaginal lubrication ever return?

    Yes. Vaginal estrogen can help restore your body’s ability to produce lubrication again. You can notice improvements in vaginal moisture in two weeks. By the time you reach the four to six-week mark, you can expect improved comfort during sexual activity. After three months, you should experience the full benefits.

  • Will painful sex go away if I have more sex?

    No. There is no evidence to show that you should treat painful sex with more sex.

  • What is the solution?

    The solution to painful sex is nuanced and personal. Some individuals may have difficulty getting wet even if they are aroused. Others may experience tearing or bleeding even with minimal penetration.

    For mild symptoms, over-the-counter vaginal lubricants and moisturizers are a good first step. Vaginal lubricants can be applied before or during sexual activity in order to ease pain during intercourse. Moisturizers can be applied daily to restore moisture to the vaginal skin.

    For moderate to severe symptoms, topical vaginal estrogen is a prescription treatment that helps restore the moisture and integrity of the vaginal tissues. It can only be obtained by prescription from healthcare provider - such as a board-certified doctor here at at Interlude.

  • When should I seek medical advice?

    If you're experiencing painful sex, reaching out to a healthcare professional is a positive step you can take.

    Many healthcare professionals will recommend a lubricant or moisturizer at first, but many women find that these solutions do not adequately solve the problem of painful sex.

    Vaginal estrogen cream is highly effective, but it can only be obtained by a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider (including a board-certified doctor at Interlude!).

Want to know more?

  • Vaginal itching: Explore the connection between menopause and vaginal itching. And, if you're doing research or looking for solutions, take our quiz to learn more about treatment options.
  • Painful sex: Vaginal dryness can impact your overall health, quality of life, and sexual wellness. Explore treatment options that can help you have enjoyable and pain-free sex for years to come.
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