Menopause is a natural stage in every woman’s life and the experience is as individual as you are. However, most women will notice a change in their intimate area and intimate health over time, experiencing symptoms such as vaginal dryness and irregular periods. These changes don’t mean that you can’t continue to enjoy a healthy and vibrant lifestyle or sex life as there are many treatment options available to address these symptoms.
Menopause occurs when the female sex hormone oestrogen decreases. Before you reach menopause oestrogen regulates your ovulation and menstruation. When your levels of oestrogen naturally decrease, your menstrual cycles end and you stop ovulating and stop having regular periods. When you reach menopause it’s unlikely you will be able to get pregnant.
During menopause, your periods become less frequent and eventually stop. The average age for menopause in Ireland is 50 years old, but some women can experience premature menopause, even before 40 years old. If you are under 50 years old, you are diagnosed as going through menopause once you haven’t had a period for two years, but if you are over 50 the diagnosis occurs once you haven’t had a period for only one year.
Symptoms of Menopause
The main symptom of menopause is a change (usually a decrease) in the pattern of your monthly periods. The changes in your hormones can also cause other symptoms, such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, mood changes, sleeping problems and urinary tract infections or cystitis. Because every woman will experience menopause differently, symptoms vary from woman to woman.
Treating the symptoms of menopause
Depending on the severity of our symptoms, there are many different treatments and remedies you can try to help find relief. These range from simple changes to your diet and lifestyle to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as prescribed by your doctor.
Some symptoms can be treated very specifically. For example, if you’re suffering from vaginal dryness, you can use an intimate moisturiser to soothe and moisturise, even during sex. You might find that making changes to your lifestyle, such as eating a more balanced diet and exercising regularly, can also be helpful in managing your symptoms.
As menopause is different for everyone it can sometimes be difficult to manage. If you’re struggling, your doctor will understand and will be able to talk you through different options available to you.
Sex: lubricants or moisturisers?
Lubricants provide short term lubrication (for example, before intercourse) while moisturisers provide more long-lasting relief.