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Painful Sex After Menopause: Know Causes and Treatments

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30-Second-Summary
  • Menopause is a natural process in which the ovaries stop releasing eggs (known as ovulation). It usually happens around age 50.
  • Painful intimacy is the most common complaint of post-menopausal women.
  • Many women experience uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms when estrogen levels are low.
  • As menopause hits, a woman's estrogen levels naturally decrease. It can lead to an imbalance in her hormone levels, affecting her physical and emotional intimacy.
  • As estrogen levels decrease during perimenopause, some women experience a drop in libido and may find sex painful or uncomfortable.
  • Menopause is a natural, gradual process, so it is important not to panic if you experience decreased libido.

Introduction

Menopause is a challenging time in a woman’s life. It is often associated with the end of sexuality, hot flushes, night sweats, painful sex after menopause strikes, and an inability to climax. But it is not all bad news. This period can begin a new, amazing phase in your life.

Menopause is a natural process in which the ovaries stop releasing eggs (known as ovulation). It usually happens around age 50. Many women experience uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms when estrogen levels are low.

The older you get, the more difficult it becomes for your body to maintain its normal functions. All these changes may lead to menopause earlier than expected.

Painful intimacy[1] is the most common complaint of post-menopausal women. It may start with a burning sensation in the vagina during and after sex. It can also include itching, irritation, and swelling.

Most of the time, the vaginal tissues are dry, which causes inflammation and leads to itching, irritation, and burning. Vaginal dryness can also occur with menopause due to low estrogen and increased androgen production.

Treating painful intimacy during menopause may include medications, topical estrogen, and a water-soluble lubricant.

Why Does Painful Sex Occurr After Menopause?

There are many different reasons why you may experience painful sex after menopause once your body has transitioned into the phase of menopause.

Some of the most common reasons appear to be something that most women experience. However, some aspects of experiencing painful sex after menopause can be pretty rare but still valid.

Let’s have a look at the varied reasons why sex may be painful after menopause.

1. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes during perimenopause may cause vaginal dryness and irritation. As menopause hits, a woman’s estrogen levels naturally decrease. It can lead to an imbalance in her hormone levels, affecting her physical and emotional intimacy.

As estrogen levels drop, testosterone levels rise. When testosterone is at its peak level, it can make women more aggressive and cause them to feel less emotionally connected to their partners. When testosterone levels are low, testosterone may negatively impact how women respond to sexual stimulation. It may also cause vaginal dryness, which may lead to painful sex after menopause has set in.

Some women may also experience heightened sensitivities as their hormone level drops during menopause, which can bring unpleasant sensations. These natural changes may make it more difficult for women to feel physically close to their partners and emotionally connected.

2. Loss Of Libido

Estrogen level

As estrogen levels decrease during perimenopause, some women experience a drop in libido and may find sex painful or uncomfortable. Menopause is a natural, gradual process, so it is important not to panic if you experience decreased libido.

However, suppose you notice that your libido has decreased[2] significantly. In that case, you should consult your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions that may be causing it. Your doctor can perform blood tests to check your hormone levels and rule out any health conditions contributing to a decrease in your libido.

3. Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness may cause painful sex after menopause due to inadequate lubrication. It can also lead to sexual discomfort or even painful intercourse. As a woman ages, she may start to experience vaginal dryness. It can be caused by hormonal changes, decreased estrogen levels, or decreased estrogen production. As a result, the walls of the vagina start to get thinner and lose elasticity. It can make it difficult for the vagina to naturally lubricate itself during sex.

Dryness is also a common reason that women stop having sex. It might be because it causes pain or discomfort and causes them to feel embarrassed about their body. There are many ways you can try to combat this issue and keep your intimate moments as pleasurable as possible.

4. Loss Of Estrogen

During perimenopause, estrogen levels decrease. Estrogen is responsible for keeping the vaginal tissue healthy and thick, so when estrogen decreases, the vaginal tissue becomes thin. Losing estrogen during menopause is a significant cause of painful intimacy issues.

The steady decline in estrogen levels over time might lead to an imbalance between female sex hormones and the tissues of the vagina, causing them to contract and become less elastic. It can leave women feeling sore and irritated, leading to painful sex after menopause that can last for hours after the initial act.

When the vaginal tissue is thin, the blood flow to the area is reduced, resulting in less lubrication. With less lubrication, the vagina becomes dry and can become irritated and painful during sex. While there are no specific treatments for this condition, staying hydrated and avoiding unnecessary physical activity can help alleviate symptoms.

5. Low Mood, Anxiety, And Depression

One of the leading reasons for pain during intimacy is low mood, and depression is a frequent complication of menopause. Estrogen is involved in the production of serotonin, which is associated with mood and sleep. As estrogen levels fall during menopause, you may experience a change in your mood, which can lead to depression.

As a woman enters menopause, changes in her body can affect her mood[3], anxiety, and sense of intimacy with her partner. They may experience changes in their hormone levels and certain physical symptoms like hot flashes, skin dryness, and aches and pains. While these are all regular changes, they can also cause women to experience more pain during intimate moments with their partners.

As the levels of estrogen drop, the level of the stress hormone cortisol increases. Cortisol is known for causing inflammation and pain in the body, which might cause sensitivity to touch and increased painful sex after menopause.

A low sense of intimacy can also be a factor. Low moods often lead to decreased self-confidence, making it difficult for a woman to feel comfortable sharing her needs or desires. Low moods that are long-term or caused by other factors can be harder to treat than short-lived ones, so women must get help when needed.

Ways To Make Sex More Comfortable During Menopause

1. Speak To Your Doctor About Estrogen

Doctor About Estrogen
Low-dose estrogen is a type of hormone replacement therapy that can reduce the pain of intimacy during menopause. It works primarily by mimicking the natural effects of estrogens, which occur in women’s bodies during puberty and pregnancy and activate estrogen receptors in the body.

Nowadays, there are so many avenues to choose from when it comes to estrogen therapy, including patches and creams. One popular method is low-dose estrogen cream or spray, which contains only a tiny amount of hormones. That is why it’s thought to be safer than other forms of hormone therapy for menopause and sex.

However, there are still some overall risks associated with this option. For one thing, it can be expensive. And if you’re using the cream on your skin daily, it could lead to skin irritation or breakouts.

2. Incorporate Sex Toys During Intimacy

When you’re feeling anxious or depressed about your changing body and hormones, it can be hard to enjoy the intimacy that is so important during this time. Using pleasure toys like vibrators that offer targeted stimulation can help relieve some of the discomforts associated with these changes in your body.

Research suggests[4] that using pleasurable toys during sex can reduce intimacy-related pain. It could be because sexual stimulation may help reduce pain by increasing blood flow to the pelvic region (which might help bring some relief for those experiencing hot flashes) or by providing a distraction from other physical sensations like cramps. Another benefit of pleasurable toys is that they can increase your arousal level, leading to more intense orgasms.

So it’s not just about bringing relief during menopause and sex but also having more intense orgasms, which may bring relief from other symptoms of menopause like mood swings or depression.

3. Use Lubrication When Needed

Lubricant is a great way to maintain comfort and reduce pain during sex. It can reduce pain and also increase the sensitivity of your partner. Naturally available oils such as coconut oil and olive oil are great for this. There are also personal lubricants that you can use, like water-based lubes or silicone-based lubricants that are hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and even taste delicious!

They are available in different forms such as gels, lotion, liquid, and even sprays. You can choose one that suits your needs best. Some require reapplication after a few minutes, while others can be used for long periods, depending on how much you need.

These lubes are non-toxic, non-irritating, and allergy-free. They are straightforward and great for people who want a lubricant but have sensitivities or allergies to other products. They are easy to purchase and can be found in almost any pharmacy or online.

4. Use A Vaginal Moisturizer

Use A Vaginal Moisturizer
Vaginal dryness is one of the most reported complaints of women after menopause. The change in hormone levels can cause a decrease in the amount of moisture available to the vaginal tissue, making it more susceptible to irritation and damage. It may lead to several uncomfortable symptoms, including pain during sex and decreased sensitivity.

A moisturizer is one of the most effective ways to treat vaginal dryness and reduce painful sex after menopause. These products provide the needed hydration, which helps protect against irritation and keeps the vaginal walls healthy and strong.

There are so many different types of vaginal moisturizers on the market. Some will have a specific purpose like healing chafed skin or soothing inflamed skin. Others will be more general moisturizers that can be used anywhere on the body. Still, they all contain some form of oil or water-based solution. Either way, you should choose a moisturizer that is right for your skin type and needs.

5. Indulge In Foreplay

Foreplay is the time before the main event when you can relax, be playful and explore one another’s bodies. There is a wide range of things that can be done during foreplay. It can include massages, kissing, touching, eating, and drinking.

Foreplay can be a chance to reconnect with your partner and allow them to get to know you better. It can also be a great opportunity to learn more about your own body and how you react to certain types of stimulation or touch, and it may even reduce painful sex for women.

Be creative and explore one another’s bodies. Pay close attention to what feels good and what doesn’t. If you feel uncomfortable with something, let your partner know. During foreplay, you can also talk with your partner about what you both want from sex. It can be a great way to ease any anxiety and make you feel more comfortable with one another.

6. Try Relaxation Therapy

Many women experience distress following menopause, including reduced sexual desire. In the early stages of menopause, the frequency of intimacy is decreased. In contrast, it can become more complicated in later stages to engage in sexual activity, which may increase the chances of having painful sex for women.

It can seriously affect your overall quality of life and lead to increased stress and anxiety levels. Several natural therapies[5] can help reduce these symptoms, including relaxation therapy. This therapy involves learning how to control your breathing and focus your attention on one thing at a time. By doing this regularly, you can increase your sensitivity to your body’s signals and relieve physical and emotional tension. You may wish to consider taking a class or learning to meditate to improve your quality of life.

Conclusion

It is crucial to remember that menopause is a natural process. It is normal to experience periodic changes throughout the menopausal transition. Your doctor can help you manage many of these changes to enjoy sex during this time.

It can be challenging to understand what is meant by the term “painful intimacy.” Painful intimacy can refer to any type of sexual activity you find uncomfortable or unpleasant. These activities are often thought to be the most problematic for women as they can be painful for many reasons. The most common types of painful intimacy are those that involve penetration and those that involve vaginal penetration.

Painful intimacy can be caused by a variety of different factors. The most common are hormonal fluctuations, vaginal dryness, genital arousal or sensitivity, vaginal infection, and vaginal aging.

Painful intimacy most commonly occurs due to reduced blood flow to the vulva, vaginal tissues, and the clitoris. Painful intimacy may also occur during intercourse or related to your sexual response.

The best way to avoid painful sex for women is to talk to your health care provider about the different types of sexual activity you engage in. Your physician will be able to help you figure out which types are causing you pain and why.

Your doctor can also help you make an informed decision about which types of sexual activity are most enjoyable, as well as offer tips on preventing painful intimacy during sexual activity.

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