Menopause is something we all go through. Some of us have a difficult time, some of us have an easy time and some of us might not even notice it. But whatever your experience, it is a time when one of the most important parts of our bodies changes. We only have one vagina and even though menopause signifies the time when our reproductive system is shutting down, we need to look after that area.
Our intimate areas are incredibly balanced and when we go through these hormonal changes, that balance is disrupted. The vaginal region is incredibly sensitive and is also home to different types of healthy bacteria. When an imbalance occurs, bad bacteria can develop and this can cause a series of bigger problems. Infections with symptoms of rashes, inflammation, irritation and pain are especially common during menopause as our oestrogen lessens and the vagina becomes dry and imbalanced.
Michelle Kenway, owner of Pelvic Exercises, told us that menopause causes a lot of change in the vagina. She said, “With menopause, changes occur in the vaginal tissues caused by the decrease in oestrogen circulating through the body. Low oestrogen levels cause decreased blood flow to the vagina and a problem called vaginal atrophy, which includes vaginal dryness. The vaginal walls become thin and inelastic and more prone to injury especially with friction from daily activities and with sexual intercourse”.
The reason this can cause such serious problems is because the change in natural vaginal flora creates an environment that encourages growth of harmful bacteria. Michelle told us, “The good bacteria (lactobacilli) play an important role in preventing potentially harmful bacteria from sticking to the vaginal walls. When the vagina becomes less acidic and the harmful bacteria can proliferate causing vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis or thrush. If the balance of bacteria is not restored some postmenopausal women are prone to suffering from repeated vaginal infections”.
Because of the sensitivity of the area, it is so important to know how to prevent problems and manage your intimate area after menopause. Some things like exercise, sexual activity, medications, stress and fatigue, our clothing choices and the use of products can also affect that balance. So it is important to understand how you can make sure you give yourself the best chance of a healthy and happy vagina through and beyond menopause.
Our friends at Verona have shared some advice for women to help them manage their intimate area before and after menopause and to help keep it balanced.
- Avoid overindulging on caffeine and alcohol
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid overly spicy foods (especially if you aren’t accustomed to them!)
- Ensure you eat a diet with plenty of vitamin D and calcium
- Incorporate soy based foods into your diet
- Ensure you do moderate exercise daily – especially your pelvic floor muscles by doing kegel exercises
- Do relaxing exercises every day including yoga, meditation, breathing techniques or tai chi
- Remain sexually active
- Use a gentle lubricant during intercourse
- Ease vaginal dryness with a moisturising feminine wash
These small lifestyle changes can help you to maintain the natural balance of your intimate area and help to make sure you are always at your healthiest and happiest.
Did or are you actively managing the changes your vagina goes through during and after menopause? What did you find was effective in helping? Share your experiences in the comments below…
This article is sponsored by Verona to bring greater discussion about the use of feminine hygiene washes, a topic that is often undiscovered by those struggling with menopausal symptoms. To learn more about, click here.