With thanks to Femallay for sponsoring this post.
Your vagina was meant to be lubricated, supple, and elastic.
It’s supposed to be able to stretch (for obvious reasons, like both penetrative sex and childbirth), but then it’s also supposed to go back into place afterwards.
It’s supposed to get lubricated and stay at least a little moist pretty much most of the time, with extra lubrication when you’re sexually excited (and at certain times during your cycle).
The skin of the vulva and your inner and outer lips, when you’re younger, doesn’t droop and it doesn’t tend to sag. I don’t know what the right adjective is–taut seems wrong–but the skin of the vulva forms a consistent shape.
And it’s mostly the hormone estrogen that does this.
Estrogen increases blood flow to the genitalia to keep it moist, taut (for lack of a better word), and supple. Estrogen keeps everything moving nicely.
But what happens when estrogen starts to diminish?
Women in their 40s and 50s and beyond have less estrogen in their bodies, and this impacts the vagina in a variety of ways–general comfort, and, of course, sex!
A normal, young, post-pubertal vagina tends to be at least a little moist. Not like a mouth moist, but it’s similar. That makes basic movement easier, and it creates a healthier and more comfortable environment for all kinds of things (including sex).
But a normal, menopausal vagina is a lot less moist. That can cause a bit of daily discomfort, but it can especially show up in the bedroom when your mind may be raring to go, but your vagina and vulva haven’t gotten with the program.
At older ages, you can even have breakthrough bleeding which can look like a mini-period, even decades after menopause. If this happens, please see a doctor immediately. But it doesn’t always mean something like cancer. You can just get “all dried up”! And that’s why finding other ways to keep lubricated can help.
Thinning, Sensitivity, and Tearing
With less estrogen, the vaginal tissues start to get thinner. And we already know they get less lubricated.
So picture tissue that is thinning and more fragile, and that is dry, and then imagine what thrusting against that tissue would feel like. Yep. Lots of women get tearing and microfissures of the vagina from sex after menopause. (don’t worry; I’ll tell you how to prevent that in a minute!)
Shortening and Tightening
As the vagina gets less lubricated, it can also start to “shrink”, causing penetration to feel quite tight, and even causing the vagina to shorten (so the length from the opening to the cervix becomes shorter).
Finally, the lubrication that women get due to increased estrogen is also largely responsible for the good bacteria in our vaginas. When the lubrication goes away, some of that good bacteria can as well, causing some women to have more frequent UTIs (urinary tract infections) after menopause.
So what should you do to help your vagina–before and after menopause?
Before menopause, your vagina will thank you if you:
Learn how to do Kegel exercises
Keep your pelvic floor muscles in great health to help prevent prolapse (where organs push in and down the vagina), incontinence, and more when you’re older. (Here’s a great video to learn how to do Kegel exercises)
Figure out how to make sex great for you!
Figure out now, before menopausal changes come, how to experience real pleasure. Learning how to get turned on will help you later when sex starts to pose some special challenges.
Get help with painful sex or postpartum pain
If you’re experiencing pain during intercourse, or if you’re not healing as well as you’d like to postpartum and sex has now become difficult or feels different, please see a pelvic floor physiotherapist, or talk to your general health provider. When we don’t get things checked, we can actually make things worse. You shouldn’t have to live with pain, or with loss of sensation.
During and after menopause, your vagina will thank you if you:
Have lots of sex–that is actually pleasurable for you!
Intercourse without pleasure or orgasm will not help you. But intercourse where there is lubrication (even if it’s bought), and where you do orgasm, can really help! It can prevent shortening of the vagina; it can help maintain elasticity; and it can help you with muscle control.
Get help to stay lubricated
You are not less sexual when you hit menopause. You can want sex just as much and enjoy sex just as much! But you just may need some help getting lubricated.
Introducing Femallay’s Vaginal Melts
We’re used to thinking of “lubrication” as something that the husband puts on his penis that helps him thrust without discomfort for either of you.
That’s great–and it can help tremendously. But all it really does is help you temporarily feel more comfortable during sex.
What I like about Femallay is that they’re a women’s wellness company that’s focused on products that actually help YOU. Instead of a typical lubricant, Femallay’s vaginal melts are specially formulated to help address the many different challenges that our vaginas face as we age!
Femallay’s vaginal melts are suppositories made with botanical oils and butters, enriched with Vitamins A and E, that give your vagina the TLC it needs!
And they’re available in a wide variety of flavours (that’s fun!) with a wide variety of essential oils (and some that are completely unscented). And you can even order small sample packages to see which ones you like best.
Naturally nourishing and rich in vitamins A & E, Femallay’s vaginal suppository melts were crafted with your well-being and pleasure in mind. Luxurious illipe butter and lavish botanical oils work together in these melts to deliver long-lasting moisture while also helping to restore skin elasticity!
Made with premium ingredients for your health and comfort, all of our suppositories are soy-free, gluten-free, glycerin-free, paraben-free, hormone-free, and naturally antimicrobial.
What about younger women who also need some TLC?
Everyone is different, and some of you may need some help with elasticity even earlier–especially after childbirth! You may need some help with healing, or just to get back on track (check with your medical provider if you’re using them postpartum!)
If you’ve been struggling with sexual pain, these can also help once you’ve done the pelvic floor physiotherapy and retrained your muscles (please do that work first!).
Plus their new Hemp suppositories, made with hemp oil, can help with cramps too.
We often don’t think about our vaginas much until something goes wrong.
We pay attention during our periods, but other than that–they don’t affect us much. And that’s how we’re made! That’s a good thing.
But if we can pay attention earlier, we can find that we breeze through a lot of the changes that come with childbirth, menopause, hormonal changes, and more.
Your vagina is an awfully important part of you. So give it the TLC it deserves!
Have you experienced changes in your vagina, or challenges? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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