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New Day Vitality Hormone Center
Painful Sex: A Real Mid-Life Crisis
New Day Vitality Hormone Center
. http://www.newdayvitality.com/

Painful Sex: A Real Mid-Life Crisis

Painful Sex: A Real Mid-Life Crisis

It’s one of life’s cruel ironies: the kids are finally out of the house so you have more privacy and free time but having sex gets . . . complicated.

“Both men and women deal with hormone changes in their 40s that can cause changes in sexual arousal, desire and general physical comfort during sexual activity,” says Shannon Chavez, a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist in Los Angeles.

But for women, pain with intercourse – called dyspareunia (dis-puh-ROO-nee-uh) – is among their top three menopause problems.

According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), a science-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women during midlife and beyond, “between 17-45% of postmenopausal women say they find sex painful.”

The culprit is lower levels of estrogen. Throughout a woman’s reproductive years, estrogen contributes to effective vaginal lubrication and thickens the vaginal wall while increasing blood vessels to the skin. But levels of estrogen wildly fluctuate in women’s 40s and, without hormone therapy, remain low after menopause, causing vaginal atrophy – vaginal dryness and loss of elasticity. Not only can this cause pain during sex, but, over time, intercourse under these harsh conditions also can cause vaginal inflammation and even mild injury, adding to a woman’s distress and discomfort.

Luckily, there are treatments available for vaginal atrophy and dyspareunia, ranging from over-the-counter water-soluble lubricants to topical and systemic hormone therapy. But lubrication alone may not solve the problem of vaginal atrophy. NAMS suggests the use of vibrators and dildos to help stimulate blood flow, as well as vaginal dilators – plastic or rubbery round-tipped cylinders, graduated in size – that are used to stretch and relax the vaginal muscles. (Go to https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/effective-treatments-for-sexual-problems/sexual-devices, for more information.)

It may take some extra work, a bit of adjustment, and a sense of humor certainly helps, but sex beyond your 40s can be fun and satisfying. Be sure to talk to your GYN about pain that persists and don’t be shy about talking to a sex therapist. Countless studies have shown the health benefits of a happy sex life, so take advantage of that empty nest. Say YES to sex!

MD (301) 805-6805 | VA (703) 288-3130