Reviewed by Dr. Ameya Kanakiya
What is Dyspareunia?
Dyspareunia is defined as pain in your vagina during sexual intercourse.
76% of the women experience genital pain or discomfort during sex. The causes of dyspareunia could be many. It could be a physical cause like an infection of the pelvic region, skin disorders around the vulva, or loss of lubrication, or it could be due to other reasons like stress, emotional issues, body image issues, or vaginismus.
What is postmenopausal dyspareunia?
The primary cause of dyspareunia that happens around menopause is the lack of lubrication due to loss of vaginal secretions. Hormonal changes around menopause lead to vaginal atrophy and loss of secretions that normally help in keeping your vagina moist. The resulting vaginal dryness leads to vaginal burning and irritation which intensifies after sexual intercourse.
How common is menopause-related dyspareunia?
The incidences of menopausal dyspareunia are reported to be as high as 45% to as low as 2% depending on the social conditions of a geographical location. Wondering why such a high disparity in the incidence? Because women choose not to talk about their pain. But they continue to suffer the everlasting negative effects which affect their sexual lives.
A recent study by The North American Menopause Society disclosed that only 10% of women experiencing menopause dyspareunia seek treatment for it.
Many women are ashamed to talk even to their doctors about it. Often the fear of judgment and the fear that they will be blamed for their condition makes women silent sufferers.
What are the effects of dyspareunia?
While statistics indicate that women are reluctant to seek medical attention for this condition — it remains a very important cause of marital discord and decreased quality of life for the women experiencing it. Long-term dyspareunia has been known to lead to vaginal injuries and bleeding as well.
Is this condition treatable?
There are solutions for this condition depending on the cause. While infections or inflammations can be treated with appropriate drugs. The treatment of dyspareunia due to vaginal dryness has, in fact, very simple solutions! Women should not be apologetic to speak frankly with their doctors about dyspareunia. Prompt treatment can forestall more serious problems. Doctor visits can be the first step to relieving dyspareunia and avoiding severe complications such as vaginal bleeding.
What are the available treatments for postmenopausal dyspareunia?
Dyspareunia due to dryness of the vagina can be treated by topical medications, vaginal lubricants, or hormone therapy.
First line treatment options consist of lubes and vaginal moisturizers. Water, oil, and silicone-based vaginal lubricants are available in the market. These lubricants can be applied to the vaginal opening thus helping to facilitate insertion.
Hormone therapy could be the solution in some cases. These hormones could be either pills to ingest, patches to apply, or creams/ointments for local application in the vagina. It goes without saying that these hormones need to be used only and only under medical supervision. Your gynecologist will need to evaluate your medical parameters to start you on any oral hormonal medications. Local applications of creams/ointments are comparatively easier. They don’t have any serious medical risks. These ointments act locally to increase the blood supply, elasticity, and thickness of the vaginal tissues. This in turn helps with vaginal dryness and overall comfort.
Some non medication therapies might also help like learning vaginal relaxation exercises. Furthermore if sex has been painful for a long period of time, negative emotions may be associated with it. So improving communication with the partner or talking to a counselor can help resolve these issues.
A generalized idea of available treatments is given in this article. We advise you to consult a doctor to choose the right treatment for you.
Postmenopausal dyspareunia is a painful condition that is not always well understood. Women usually hesitate to open up about this condition.
The first step in this process is recognizing that there is a problem and you should seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment. There are several female doctors at your service at Elda Health. We have established an environment that lets every woman express themselves freely and make the most out of their menopausal phase.
We hope you felt empowered after reading this article on postmenopausal dyspareunia and you now know that you’re not alone