A year after menstrual periods stop, you’re considered in menopause and your body will continue to go through several changes. The drop in estrogen levels can cause a number of changes such as trouble sleeping, loss (or gained) interest in sex, mood swings, weight gain and hot flashes just to name a few. However, a topic that’s hard for many women to talk about openly is how menopause affects the quality of their sex life and what can be done to alleviate some of the negative symptoms that occur.
In fact a 2016 study conducted by The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) found that 52% of the women respondents aged 40-72 years and older all of which were currently in a partnered relationship had not discussed any of their sexual concerns with their healthcare providers (click here to see the study). Even though most women surveyed agreed that sexual activity was important to their overall quality of life, this continues to be a difficult topic for women to bring up to their trusted healthcare provider, meaning many women suffer in silence.
“This study additionally confirms that better communications are needed between healthcare providers and their middle-aged women patients to address sexual function concerns,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director.
Vaginal Atrophy is the thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to a women’s body having less estrogen and can cause moderate to severe discomfort for women. VVA is most common in women after menopause but can also occur as a result of a drop in estrogen from breastfeeding or the use of certain medications as well. The most common symptoms that cause vaginal discomfort for women due to menopause include: Vaginal dryness, burning, irritation and discharge (click here to see the mayo clinics list of symptoms). In a survey of 1000 women conducted by PubMed (click here), vaginal discomfort caused 58% of the women to avoid intimacy with their partners. Vaginal atrophy can not only lead to discomfort and painful sex, but for many women can also lead to urinary symptoms as well.
Hormone replacement therapy replaces or supplements the estrogen that is no longer produced by the body naturally. This can be supplied in may forms including: Estrogen pills, Estrogen patches, Topical Estrogen, and Vaginal Estrogen. These treatments are effective for some women however they can be costly for many and can come with unwanted side effects of their own (click here to see our blog on this topic)
In recent years devices such as the Eros clitoral therapy device and the Fiera personal care device have been developed. These devices provide a gentle suction to increase blood flow to the area. The increased blood flow can increase pressure on the clitoral nerve providing relief and a kickstart to the bedroom activities. These devices too can be costly for women as they can cost hundreds of dollars upfront to purchase.
These products are the most recommended for added ease and comfort during sexual activity and to supplement the body’s lubrication. Typically, water-based lubricants are the preferred lubricant for women experiencing vaginal dryness. While lubricants are not treatments for vaginal dryness, personal lubricants are a cost-effective solution for added comfort during sexual activity and to supplement the body’s natural lubrication. Choosing a lubricant can be an overwhelming decision and making sure to check if your lubricant is condom compatible, pH balanced, and FDA 510(k) Cleared are all important factors. Moreover, checking ingredients for harsh chemicals, parabens, hormones, and added fragrances, all of which can be irritants to sensitive skin is also key in choosing a lubricant. SYLK Moisturizing Lubricant is specifically designed to mimic the body’s natural lubrication and is the only lubricant available on the market made from New Zealand kiwi vine extract. The kiwi vine extract is the differentiating ingredient that makes SYLK ultra-slippery and has an abundance of polysaccharides which give SYLK its ultra slippery texture that makes the product feel so natural.
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