Painful Sex After Menopause: Causes and Solutions

Jun 11, 2024 | 1 min read

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Painful sex after menopause is a common issue caused by hormonal changes leading to vaginal dryness and atrophy. Learn effective strategies to manage and alleviate discomfort.

Why Is Sex So Painful After Menopause?

Sex can be painful after menopause due to several reasons. Here are the main causes:

  • Vaginal Dryness: Lower estrogen levels lead to reduced lubrication and elasticity in the vaginal tissues. Estrogen is essential for maintaining moisture and flexibility in these tissues, and its decline can cause significant dryness and discomfort during sex.
  • Vaginal Atrophy: This condition involves the thinning and weakening of the vaginal walls due to decreased estrogen. Thinner and more fragile vaginal walls are more prone to irritation and pain during intercourse.
  • Decreased Blood Flow: Menopause can reduce blood circulation to the vaginal area, contributing to dryness and increased sensitivity. Adequate blood flow is necessary to keep vaginal tissues healthy and resilient.
  • Lower Natural Lubrication: Hormonal changes during menopause result in less natural lubrication being produced. This lack of lubrication increases friction during sex, leading to pain and discomfort.
  • Pelvic Floor Muscle Weakness: The pelvic floor muscles can weaken due to hormonal changes during menopause. Weakened muscles can cause discomfort and make intercourse more painful.

Painful Sex After Menopause: What to Do?

There are several ways to manage and find treatment for painful sex after menopause. Here are some effective strategies:

  • Use Vaginal Moisturizers: Regular use of vaginal moisturizers can help keep the vaginal tissues hydrated and more comfortable. This can alleviate dryness and reduce pain during sex.
  • Use Lubricants During Sex: Applying lubricants during intercourse can significantly reduce friction and pain, making sex more enjoyable.
  • Consider Hormonal Treatments: Hormonal treatments can help address the root cause of vaginal dryness and atrophy. They work by replenishing estrogen levels, improving lubrication, and reducing discomfort. For example, vaginal rings release a low dose of estrogen over 90 days, according to ACOG.
  • Maintain Regular Sexual Activity: Engaging in regular sexual activity can improve vaginal health by increasing blood flow to the area. This helps maintain tissue elasticity and moisture.
  • Pelvic Floor Exercises: Performing pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, can strengthen the muscles and reduce discomfort during sex. Stronger pelvic floor muscles provide better support and control.
  • Use Vaginal Dilators: Non-medication options like vaginal dilators can help stretch the vaginal tissues gradually. This can make sex less painful over time.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and reducing stress through relaxation techniques can be beneficial. Staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight can improve blood circulation, reducing symptoms of painful sex after menopause.
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