Ok Ladies, this is important.
As we age our vagina ages right along side us. Most of us are conscious of changes to our face. Lines on our face we see in the mirror, the changes in our vagina we may not see, but definitely may begin to feel. The vagina ages and so therefore, just like the skin on our face, the vagina needs taking care of.
As oestrogen declines with age, the tissue of the vagina begins to change. This decline in oestrogen results in a cascade of events. The labia majora (sometimes known as the lips of the vagina) can flatten and the clitoris can decrease in size, the skin thins, secretions lessen, the microbiome changes and these are just some of the many changes that can begin to take place in our 40’s. If we don’t look after it, the vagina can begin to atrophy (really another name for wither!). The great news is – you can look after your vagina and it will well and truly thank you for it!
Talking about the vagina is such an important conversation to have. Most women are comfortable to discuss symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, but not everyone is comfortable to bring up vaginal changes and dryness over a cup of tea! All of the naturopaths at PHF treat women with menopausal symptoms and so we make it a point to bring up vaginal health.
Symptoms we commonly hear about:
- Dryness of the vagina
- Pain on intercourse
- Lack of arousal
- Low libido
- Pain on the external area (the vulva) with sitting
- Discomfort wearing clothes like jeans
- Urinary infections that suddenly start occurring
Medically, topical oestrogen preparations are often prescribed for vaginal changes and they can make a great difference. BUT not everyone feels comfortable or is a candidate for using vaginal oestrogen preparations. A lot of research has been directed into this area and some very interesting findings have come to light over the last decade. The use of vaginal vitamin D has proven an effective therapy for addressing vaginal changes due to perimenopause. Studies of vaginal vitamin D have shown vaginal dryness significantly improved, paleness of the tissue significantly reduced, pain scores significantly reduced and the pH of the vaginal significantly improved. The improvement of the pH results in improvement in elasticity and hydration of the vaginal mucosa.
Seriously, this SHOULD be something we are all talking about. We use vaginal vitamin D for women of all ages. Vaginal issues associated with our perimenopausal and menopausal years should not be silently suffered or put up with as a part of aging. If you are reading this it is something to share with your mum, your daughters, your friends. It is knowledge that can make a huge difference in a woman’s life.
Clinically we have great success prescribing vaginal vitamin D for our patients. We are very specific in which vitamin D preparations we use, it is important to realise it needs to be prescribed professionally. There are many vitamin D formulas with excipients you would not want in your vagina, getting it right is important.
We have also see great results with our prescriptions for vaginal moisturisers. There are a number on the market. For us at PHF it is super important to understand each ingredient in a formulation to ensure it provides the benefits we need without putting anything unhelpful into the vagina. The regular use of specific vaginal moisturisers along with vitamin D has in the words of one of our patients been responsible for ‘rescuing and reawakening the vagina!’
So, the take home message – it is time to look after your vagina!