Atropic Vaginitis Is Exactly Why We Need To Talk About It
When you sit down and you feel like you have sandpaper between your legs, and when you stand up there is a 80% chance of light bladder leakage, it’s probably fair to say you are not rushing off to the bedroom to have a long weekend of steamy sex. Welcome to perimenopause and menopause life for a lot of women.
Guys, your partner has not suddenly turned frigid. No, she’s not mad at you or worried that you have “let yourself go”, but yes, you could probably help out more around the house. She’s uncomfortable, it hurts, she’s probably more scared that she’ll let on and oh, people have pretty much told her, yup, this is what happens at your age. Welcome.
If she talks about it to her friends, the response is usually a collective sigh of commiseration.
Atropic vaginitis is a side effect of lowering estrogen levels. Other signs of genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) – doesn’t that just sound delightful? – include itching, burning, discharge, frequent urination, or increase urination urge, pain and possibly bleeding during intercourse. With all of that going on, no wonder you are not swinging from the rafters.
Now for the really scary part: most women don’t seek treatment because they don’t see the point.
Like so many things, they just put up with it and carry on because that is how so many of us have been wired to do. We did it raising kids when we felt we had absolutely no idea what we were doing and all we had to do was keep these little humans alive. We did it raising kids, running a household, holding down a job and caring for our friends, family etc. We did it because we know no other way. This is just going to be another thing.
Well, it doesn’t have to be. It really is time for self care and putting yourself first. Time to take care of you, so you can keep doing everything you do.
There is the traditional route of pharmaceutical hormone replacement (topical creams, vaginal rings, bioidentical hormones, etc.) but they also have higher levels of side effects and it is a level of trial and error to get the dosing correct.
We do things differently at my practice. Not everything is suitable for everyone or fit into everyone’s lifestyle, but they are always personalized, non-invasive, holistic and practical. It also helps that it works!
Starting with the basics: pelvic floor control. Most people thinking this is when you do Kegels to “tighten” your pelvic floor. The reality is, a tight pelvic floor is about as useful as a tight quad or any other muscle: non-functional. Muscles need to be strong AND flexible. The atrophy of the vaginal walls also results in reduced circulation, so this is always focus. We work on the Power Plate for hypertrophy, blood and lymphatic circulation. This will help with bladder and bowel control, more intense orgasms and most women also notice a cosmetic change to their hips, thighs and abdomen area.
We always start with simple movements and as they get more control, we add in kettlebells and other load.
Their homework assignment is urine flow control. Can you stop and start your urine flow when you want? This might sound simple, but for a lot of women, the first time they try it, they are shocked at how difficult it is.
We take a day trip to a sex shop.
Here in the SF Bay Area, we are blessed to have amazing, sex positive retailers like Good Vibrations because supermarket/drug store KY Jelly is not going to get you through atropic vaginitis. Good Vibrations has a lube bar, where you can test out water based or silicone based lubricants. You can then purchase it in full sizes or sample sizes.
They also have beautiful sex toys. Some ob/gyns will recommend sex and/or masturbation for blood circulation and hypertrophy of the vaginal wall. I know, it sounds counterintuitive because we have having this discussion because sex is painful. This is why you may want to consider investing in some sex toys. There is some trial, error and exploration to be had to get this right too. There is also a lot less pressure than doing this with your partner.
I use Quanta Therapies bioenergy patches and bracelets in my office. The frequencies programmed into the patches help with systemic hormone regulation. The coolest part of this technology is that it is wearable and your body determines how much and how fast it uses the energy. Patches last 3 days and bracelets last a year.
I love using Schizandra tea, powder or tincture. Known in Traditional Chinese Medicine to replenish sexual fluids, this is definitely a go-to herb for atropic vaginitis. Ayurvedic equivalent of it is Shatavari and Manjistha. I also love a good wild rose tincture. All these remedies are also adaptogens, so they will help with support your stress levels through all of this.
POINT OF VIEW
Lastly, I want to remind women that in many traditional cultures, menopause is a death and a rebirth. This is the phoenix rising. We just need to be there for each other and get through to the other side of amazingness. And I am always here to lend any help and support I possibly can.