7 Surprising Ways Your Vagina Might Change After Menopause
Something we weren’t prepared for in our grade school health class was how our bodies might change during and after menopause. “The change” really lives up to its name as there are numerous (and often uncomfortable) ways our bodies change.
During and after menopause, because of the lack of estrogen, the most intimate parts of our bodies may begin to change. Not all women will experience these vaginal changes, but many women do.
The changes are often lumped together and referred to as vaginal atrophy which can occur because of low levels of estrogen. After menopause, the ovaries stop producing higher levels of estrogen which can cause many changes to the body.
How common is postmenopausal vaginal atrophy?
63% of healthy women over the age of 60, experience at least one symptom of vaginal atrophy after menopause.
In a 2013 study, researchers reported the prevalence of menopausal symptoms among postmenopausal women.
Here are a few things to know:
Of the 3,520 women, 93% experienced at least one menopausal symptom.
63% experienced symptoms of vaginal atrophy.
48% reported vaginal discomfort.
Of that 48 percent, 85% experienced vaginal dryness, and 52% experienced pain during intercourse.
80% of women felt vaginal dryness has negatively affected their quality of life and intimate relationships.
7 ways your vagina might change after menopause
These vaginal atrophy symptoms can range from mild to very severe. It’s best to talk with your doctor about treatments to lessen the effects of vaginal atrophy.
Here are 7 ways your vagina might change after menopause.
#1 Overall, your vagina might become drier
Because of a lack of estrogen, vaginal fluid secretions might become sparse. These fluids are what help to keep vaginal tissues plump, elastic and moist.
After menopause, estrogen levels are often low so you might experience overall vaginal and vulvar dryness. This dryness may become worse over time, so treatment is often recommended.
#2 You might experience a lack of arousal lubrication
Normally, during intimate moments, natural arousal lubrication occurs. This is caused by an increase in vaginal blood flow.
After menopause, the blood flow to the vagina decreases, causing natural arousal lubrication and vaginal sensitivity to decrease as well. This can make intercourse less enjoyable (and at times, downright painful).
#3 Your vaginal tissues might become thinner
Prior to menopause, the vaginal lining is plump thanks to adequate levels of estrogen. After menopause, vaginal tissues can become thin because of low estrogen.
As we age, the facial skin loses structure and collagen — the same thing can happen to vaginal tissues.
#4 Your vaginal tissue can become less elastic, causing vaginal shortening and narrowing
In general, vaginas are very elastic; they can easily expand and contract. This is made possible by the “vaginal rugae” which are small ridges in the vaginal tissue.
Because the vaginal tissue is drier, thinner, and less elastic, it is also much more fragile. The friction caused by penetrative sex (and low vaginal lubrication) can cause micro-tears in vaginal tissues, which may cause spotting after sex.
This will certainly pump the brakes on intimate moments. This can result in women avoiding sex altogether. Painful intercourse is often what drives women to seek medical treatment.
Painful intercourse and bleeding after sex can be avoided with proper treatment.