What is it about the V-word—will somebody tell me? Every time it blasts its way into conversation, I blush and shut up. Silly, right? It just feels so, well, brazen. Yes, I know. Ironic, isn’t it? Well, it’s time to woman up and face what’s going on down there. Especially near the mysterious phase of life—the Big M—when your V starts, um, malfunctioning (read: vaginal dryness).
OK, I’m growing up here and saying the female words out loud: Vagina. Menopause. I can you all cringing and cheering at the same time. Thanks, ladies. It’s good to know I’m not alone.
Here at Brazen Woman, our health—and yours—is our business. Whether that’s physical health, mental health, emotional health, sexual health or spiritual health, we’re here to keep your mind and body fit as you move through life. Right down to your vagina.
Yes, we’re going (down) there because someone has to. Fact: We care about your vagina—even more as it ages—and you should too. That means no more school girl shyness about the very natural changes that are probably occurring and that you’re probably doing your best to ignore, without much luck.
So keep reading. It’s time we started talking.
THE STRAIGHT FACTS ABOUT VAGINAL DRYNESS
We’re brazen enough to ask some questions about something we’ve been quiet about for too long: vaginal dryness, and we’re getting some answers. It’s a woman thing, and if it hasn’t come for you yet, it will. So whether you’re sweating it out with menopause symptoms or you just want to get educated in time for Women’s Health Week, tune in now as we chat with Dr. Marla Shapiro about what we can do about this all too common problem.
Randi Chapnik Myers: When I was growing up, menopause was a dirty word, reserved for old ladies. Then when it hits, we’re blindsided. What do we need to know about what menopause is doing to our bodies?
Dr. Marla Shapiro: Your mother may have told you about hot flashes, but I bet she didn’t tell you about the health of your vagina and what would happen to it in menopause. Menopause isn’t a doorway. You don’t go through it and then you’re done. Instead, you enter it and you live a third of your life there, in a state if estrogen deficiency or what we call atrophy. The further you go in, the more estrogen deficient you are.
RCM: Why are we women so freaked out about our vaginas?
Dr. MS: Vagina is a difficult word for people. No one like to say it. And then you add the very sexy word atrophy and it’s worse. Somehow, it’s different from sitting around with your girlfriends chatting over red wine and chocolates laughing about hot flashes or sweat-proof pjs.
RCM: How common a problem is vaginal dryness?
Dr. MS: Well, it’s big. To give you a sense of how big: 100% of women will have dry vaginas, half will have atrophy or other symptoms of distress, and only 7% will seek treatment. We have to change that.
RCM: So how do we know we have it for sure?
Dr. MS: Besides dryness, you may notice painful sex and irritation. You may also notice more vaginal discharge that is too often confused for a yeast infection. When that happens, women tend to make the problem worse with meds that cause burning and then you’ve got more problems.
RCM: What’s our best line of defence against dryness? What can we do to lubricate so we can still feel sexy and enjoy the act?
Dr. MS: For starters, we have to stop thinking about estrogen as the devil. If you have a local problem, you can use vaginal estrogen but that takes time. In the meantime, there are also lubricants and moisturizers specifically designed to soften up the area. Lubricants are situation driven—you’re dry during the act, you use lube. Vaginal moisturizers are formulated to keep that skin down there soft, thick and pH balanced. Think about it. The same thing that’s happening to your skin on your face is happening to your vagina, only worse because it’s estrogen depleted. We need to replace that moisture, even before the problem starts.
RCM: Let’s face it, men’s egos can be pretty fragile. What do I tell my guy so he won’t take dryness personally?
Dr. MS: First, you have to talk to yourself and own what’s happening to your body. You need to get rid of the fear, to realize it’s a normal part of aging and it’s not going to kill you or your relationship. Then, you need to feel empowered enough to open up to your guy about what you’re going through. It’s all part of intimacy and the honesty will make your sex life even better.
FACTS ABOUT REPLENS™ VAGINAL MOISTURIZER
What it’s for: Relief of menopausal vaginal dryness symptoms
How it works:
- Provides soothing moisture to vaginal cells for long-lasting hydration
- Goes to work immediately to relieve vaginal dryness
- Continues to deliver moisture for up to 3 days
- As the cells of the vaginal wall are regenerated, dry cells are cleared and REPLENS™ Vaginal Moisturizer is absorbed
- Regular moisturizing will help prevent dryness from recurring
How to use it:
- You can use it at any time of day, but it works best when used on a regular schedule
- Experts recommend using the moisturizer at least two hours prior to intercourse for ideal moisturizing
- It is safe to use REPLENS™ Vaginal Moisturizer when menstruating but some women may experience discharge
- 3ct (9 days): $10.99
- 8ct (24 days): $20.99
- 14ct (42 days): $21.99
Available for sale at Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart, and other retailers nationally.
Note: While we were compensated for the writing of this story and sharing this valuable information with you, all opinions are our own.