This is the fourth post in our occasional series inspired by the results of a survey we co-sponsored with PrevaLeaf, makers of natural products for intimate wellness. You can read our first post here and the rest by scrolling through our blog: You spoke. We’re listening.
Most of you who responded to our survey about vaginal dryness can skip this post. Take the dog for a walk. Give yourself a pedicure. And congratulate yourselves because the majority of you (78 percent) have spoken with your partner at least sometimes about the vaginal dryness you’re experiencing.
The rest of you, listen up.
After all those years together (even if the partner is new and there haven’t been so many years), your partner probably has some sense of your monthly rhythms. Some vague idea about when you’re feeling hormonal or when you might be more approachable—or when to tread very lightly. Your mate may not be able to articulate it, exactly, but I’ll bet there’s a subliminal red light/green light awareness going on.
So, even if you don’t talk about it, you probably can’t completely cover up the more distressing menopausal symptoms that have begun to throw you for a loop. It could be the vaginal dryness that has become painful and distressing; it could be lack of interest in sex. It could be embarrassing bodily changes—sags, bags, and weight gain.
You can try to carry on; you can try to hide. Some women simply give up on sex, often to the detriment of their relationships and their own well-being, not to mention that of their partner. But those issues simply become the elephant in the room that you may ignore but that will never go away.
I understand that it’s embarrassing to gradually (or suddenly) become too dry for sex. Not getting wet is the female equivalent of erectile dysfunction, and it’s just as common. It makes you feel inadequate and less feminine. And, heaven forbid, old.
Vaginal dryness is easy to fix, but fixes take time and the patience to experiment. You need your partner on board, since your sexual issues are, by default, your partner’s as well. And that’s the trick—working together to address issues that affect you both. Ideally with a sense of playfulness and humor.
Here are some conversation-starters:
While vaginal dryness, among other menopausal issues, can be relieved despite your age, it’s a lot more effective to begin treatment early, according to Dr. James Simon, professor of ob/gyn at George Washington School of Medicine. “It's easier to fix something if it hasn't been broken too long, so it's typically easier to prevent serious atrophy by starting [estrogen therapy] early.”
"Relationships go bad for a whole bunch of reasons, but why not take vaginal atrophy out of the equation," he said in this article.