Women, I firmly believe the 1980’s saying, “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better!” This can be the reality for all of us. And it should be!
Yes, our bodies change as time passes…but too many of us are feeling older than our age. Especially pre, during and after menopause.
So how are women really FEELING…? (what the research says!)
There are many researchers out there routinely doing large surveys and studies about how women are aging, both in terms of actual physiology (hormone changes and those effects on our feminine private parts) as well as how women are feeling and coping with these physical changes.
These studies continue to confirm what I already know from both my decades of clinical practice as well as my subsequent focus on women’s hormones, menopause and aging!
Would you agree to these “expert” findings about how women are feeling as they age? (Maybe YOU are feeling this way as well!)
As women age many of us are feeling negative in some way:[i]
- Our self-esteem may be suffering
- Sex lives may be dead or on life-support (sex may just hurt!)
- Marriages/relationships may not have the intimacy and sharing we crave
- Our confidence as a women or partner may be impacted
- Our mood may be low due to a feeling of disconnectedness
- We may be feeling older than our years
- Peri- and postmenopausal symptoms such as vulvar-vaginal atrophy may be plaguing us and affecting all of the above.
YES! Vulvar-vaginal atrophy symptoms are making us feel old!
All of the physiological changes related to peri- and post menopause are making us feel old before our time.
And as I’ve said before, it is all about what is going on with our hormones.
Estrogen in particular declines with menopause. Estrogen receptors are in all of our “feminine health” zones: the vagina, musculature around our pelvic floor, the urethra and bladder, and the vulva…so all of those areas are impacted by estrogen’s decline.
The decline in other natural hormones called androgens, in particular testosterone and DHEA, also impact libido and all of the “feminine health” zones as well.
Declining hormones cause physical changes to our feminine private parts, including:
- A reduction in collagen and elasticity of the vagina
- Thinning of the epithelium
- Fewer blood vessels
- Increase in the density of connective tissue
- An increase in vaginal pH and decrease in healthy vaginal flora
- Diminished natural lubrication
This all translates to how we feel about ourselves, our lives and our relationship… as we deal with:
- Dryness, irritation and pain during intercourse
- Urine leaks at the most embarrassing times!
- More “lady problems” (infections, discharge, itching, pelvic prolapse issues…)
- More health risks associated with bone loss and diseases
And things just “hurt” down there…resulting in diminished libido, less sexual activity and less sexual satisfaction.
Do a quick self-check on where YOU are at with your own sexual and pelvic health! Take my Eve Quiz!
In 2 minutes flat, you’ll get a score (from 0 to 70 – where lower is better) that represents an assessment of your sexual and pelvic health. Once you know your starting number, it’s much easier to improve!
Vulvar-vaginal atrophy symptoms are impacting our sexuality!
In one study (REVEAL) 80% of women reporting that they experience pain during sexual intercourse “at least sometimes” also reported that they just “dealt with” their vulvar-vaginal atrophy symptoms and viewed them as a natural part of aging! (although yes, it did decrease their sexual activity and satisfaction….how is that natural?).[ii]
In another study, Real Women’s Views of Treatment Options for Menopausal Vaginal Changes (REVIVE) 23% of women reported that their vaginal atrophy symptoms affected their overall enjoyment of life and 59% of women reported it affected enjoyment of sexual activity.[iii]
And finally in another study, Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy’s Impact on Sex and Relationships (CLOSER)[iv], 38% of women and 39% of their partners reported that vulvar-vaginal atrophy symptoms had a negative impact on both partners (58% of women; 78% of men) and resulted in a loss of libido (64% of women; 52% of men).
This is no way for us to live!
And guess what…women are not comfortable talking to their doctors about this stuff!
Research shows that women are just sucking it up and living with these problems rather than talking to their doctors about them! And many doctors do not appear to be talking to their patients about vulvar-vaginal atrophy (there are generally low evaluation rates and also low treatment rates for many of the available therapies).
Studies confirm this, and also speak to the fact that many women are just not aware that their symptoms are part of a larger health problem. Some women feel symptoms are simply some temporary infection or other short-term issue, and may be embarrassed to even talk about it. Others may think it is just part of aging and untreatable.
In one study 42% of women experiencing vagina discomfort realized it had to do with menopause, but most didn’t realize that their discomfort was a part of vulvar-vaginal atrophy and that symptoms were treatable. [v]
Education is an issue.
So many women are not aware of all of the possible symptoms that menopause/changing hormones can cause, nor are they aware of the solution options that are available.
And for those who do know something about the various treatment options available, the knowledge is still very skimpy, in many cases only focused on over the counter lubricating creams on the one end, and prescription based oral hormone therapy (which is systemic treatment which circulates throughout the body) on the other. Two extremes, in my view…and neither is a great solution to address vulvar-vaginal atrophy and menopause symptoms for many women.
Awareness of local hormone therapies (which are generally healthier as they do not circulate throughout the body) is lower than knowledge about oral tablets (systemic hormone replacement therapy). And the whole topic is confusing. Some 67% of women in one study didn’t feel they had enough information to make an informed choice about starting ANY kind of hormone-based therapy.[vi]
And few women know about or have been prescribed natural DHEA alternatives (I have been prescribing DHEA and other natural hormones – as have some of my peers – for at least a decade, with tremendous results with women’s vulvar-vaginal atrophy symptoms). And the research is substantiating DHEA as a viable and healthy solution all of the time. Just this past November the FDA approved the first DHEA vaginal tablet to address pain during intercourse, for example.
So what can YOU do to get out of the negative aging mode and into the rejuvenating mode?
Join me on an educational journey. Start by taking my Eve Quiz to find out where you are at with your sexual and pelvic health. It only takes about 2 minutes for you to learn a lot about your very own feminine body!
And don’t forget to Join me on Facebook where I post videos and host LIVE discussions about vaginal health and much more…