The Menopause Expert - Rebecca Hulem

Midlife and the Vagina: Why Does It Have to Change?

Rebecca Hulem, RN, RNP, CNM

Most women entering midlife today expect to feel some physical changes associated with menopause. Almost every woman has heard about the dreaded hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and sleep disturbances.  Few women however are expecting to experience physical changes in the vagina.

When puberty begins and the ovary starts producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone, menstrual cycles appear, and young women are forced ready or not to give some attention to their vagina. The majority of women that I have cared for in my thirty years of clinical practice (including myself) would much prefer to ignore this process.  However we all come to realize it is part of who we are.

As we mature we begin to appreciate the many benefits of our vagina. It is not just a portal for menstrual cycles; it is the doorway to our fertility and sexual pleasure. It appears to work perfectly with little help from us. This is a good thing. We like that we don’t need to fuss over it.

Fast forward thirty five to forty years and now the ovaries are no longer producing the same amount of estrogen, our fertility has ended (which for most is accepted) but we notice that the vagina “feels” very different.  At times it feels dry, no longer lubricating with lovemaking, orgasms are hard to find, hold on to or nonexistent. What’s happening we ask, why now? I can deal with the hot flashes but please don’t make me give up my sexuality. We feel betrayed, no longer like our self, the woman we have come to know.

Don’t despair!  I am here to educate and teach you new ways to care for your vagina. For vaginal dryness I recommend the use of a vaginal moisturizer consistently two to three times a week. To improve sexual satisfaction and orgasmic ability using an intimate arousal lubricant will enhance sexual pleasure. The use of these products will help bring back the fun and excitement in lovemaking. And soon you will realize you don’t have to give up any part of the woman you have come to love!

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