(Jessica Migala/ Everyday Health) — After you’ve officially made the transition into menopause, you may assume that your symptoms are behind you. And sure, hot flashes and night sweats can subside, but there’s one change that might linger for good: painful sex.
During menopause, your body loses estrogen, a hormone that helps keep the vaginal tissues healthy, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine, in New Haven, Connecticut. When your estrogen levels decline, you can also experience vaginal dryness, which can lead to painful sex.
Vaginal dryness and soreness or burning during penetration “often occur further out from menopause,” says Dr. Minkin. “Whereas a woman may experience hot flashes that get better, vaginal dryness tends to get worse over the years.”
Left untreated, the problem can become so severe that some women give up intercourse entirely because it’s too dry and uncomfortable to be pleasurable. Compounding the confusion, “since it occurs later, many women don’t associate this with menopause at all, and they think dryness is inevitable with aging,” says Minkin. (…)