Menopause and Loss of LibidoPosted on: 11 January 2010 by Mark O'haire
There are a number of reasons why women suffer from loss of libido and vaginal dryness. This can happen at any time in their reproductive life but is more commonly seen during and around the menopause when oestrogen levels start to decline.
Vaginal dryness can make sexual intercourse painful, leaving women feeling sore and more vulnerable to infection, often feeling like cystitis (a bladder infection). Understandably, the prospect of intercourse can be dreaded and is often avoided leading to relationship problems and distancing from partners.
The good news is, there is plenty that can be done. Health professionals often refer to dry vagina as atrophic vulvovaginitis - a very long word that can sound a bit worrying but there is no need to panic! Today, women have plenty of ways to make things more comfortable and enjoyable.
Treatments for loss of libido and dryness
Depending on the severity of the symptoms the treatments available include:
- For minor discomfort try a little lubrication during sex. Phyto Soya vaginal gel increases the renewal of the vaginal epithelium and long term hydration. A simple water soluble gel such as KY can also give good effect. Both are available over the counter.
- For those women who have persistent symptoms, then one of the following can help - Replens is available over the counter and on prescription. One application lasts up to 3 days and could be used on a regular basis. Sylk mimics natural secretions: Available over the counter and on prescription. It is made from an extract of kiwi fruit so caution if you have an allergy.
- For women with symptoms of constant genital irritation, soreness and recurrent urine infections the most successful treatment is vaginal oestrogen creams and pessaries. Only available on prescription, they come with an applicator and are inserted at night. There is also a ring pessary that is inserted into the vagina and changed every 3 months.
- Finally for those who have loss of libido, vaginal dryness and suffer from other menopausal symptoms like mood swings, poor sleep, hot flushes, then using HRT in tablet/patch or gel preparations could help. Your doctor or menopause nurse should discuss your options and help you make an informed decision. For women who cannot or do not want to take HRT then Photo Soya clinically proven capsules , Red Clover or Femarelle used alongside simple lubricants will make a big difference.
N.B. People with a peanut allergy should avoid some creams so always tell your doctor or nurse about your allergy!
Next month I will be discussing mood swings and poor body image associated with the menopause.
Pat Jones – nurse specialist in menopause
Pat Jones, a primary care practitioner, qualified as a State Registered Nurse in 1968 and has been a specialist in the menopause for over 15 years following her training at Coventry University. Pat currently works as a nurse prescriber within her local GP surgery where she advises on family planning and the menopause, running two busy clinics. In addition Pat, a British Menopause Society member, delivers talks to thousands of women to help them manage the symptoms of menopause and offers private consultations. Pat recommends women try various methods to manage their menopausal symptoms. For some, this includes phytoestrogen supplements and soya-rich diets. For others, HRT may be a more suitable option.
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