This post was developed in partnership with AMAG Pharmaceuticals
Does this describes you: You’re about 55 years old, in menopause, and you’re experiencing at least one of these symptoms: Weight gain, sleeplessness, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, hot flashes and depression. Worse, sex has become uncomfortable, maybe even painful, but you haven’t discussed your problem with your healthcare provider because a) you don’t think he or she can do anything about it b) you can live without sex or c) you’re embarrassed.
Chances are I’ve described you to a tee, but I’m not a psychic. Millions of women in the U.S. silently experience pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse, caused by the changes in their bodies after menopause. As a matter of fact, 60 percent of women suffer from VVA, or vulvar and vaginal atrophy, a common condition that can lead to painful sex, according to an exclusive FabOverFifty survey of 293 women. Yet, over half of you haven’t even talked to your healthcare provider, and you have all your excuses lined up.
Woefully, a whopping 41 percent of smart women are unaware that there’s
anything their healthcare providers can do to treat their vaginal atrophy, 27 percent of you are embarrassed to talk about it, and another 31 percent simply are willing to accept your discomfort or pain and live sans sex, according to the FabOverFifty survey.
Yes, FOFriends, There is a Treatment
Please let me set the record straight about two of these facts: Vaginal atrophy absolutely can be treated, so you don’t have to live with discomfort or pain, and you can have the chance to enjoy sex again! A number of treatment options, including estrogen and non-estrogen prescription medications, are available to help alleviate your painful sex due to menopause. Ninety percent of those who participated in the FabOverFifty survey reported they’d be willing to treat the problem if they learned sex doesn’t have to be painful.
But, how are you, usually a pretty smart lady, going to address a problem if you’re too embarrassed to talk about it with anyone, including your friends, your partner, no less your healthcare provider?
Here’s how: First, drop in on Emmy nominated actress Cheryl Hines and a few of her friends as they start the conversation about painful sex related to menopause. Cheryl knows how uncomfortable it can be to talk about this subject, so she’s partnered with AMAG Pharmaceuticals for its PAINFULLY AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS campaign to empower you, using her wonderful sense of humor, to begin the discussion with your pals, partners, and healthcare providers.
Finding a Healthcare Provider Who Understands Menopause
Second, make sure to find a doctor who understands what happens to our bodies as we move from peri to postmenopause. You might be surprised to learn that many, many doctors, including OBGYNs, are sadly uneducated about a woman’s body after her child-bearing years. Thankfully, this is starting to change, and exceptional doctors and other healthcare providers across the country, including nurse practitioners, are focusing on the health and wellness of the millions of menopausal women. Many local medical centers have menopause clinics, and The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) provides a listing of doctors in your area who are menopause specialists.
Although my healthcare provider’s office is a two-hour drive, I am happy to make the trip because she can immediately make anyone feel comfortable. She won’t wait for you to introduce the subject of painful sex; she’ll come right out and ask you, in her unassuming style, and explain all your treatment choices. “I like folks to understand what options they have,” she said. She’ll even send you home with notes about what she covered with you.
You may need to see a menopause specialist more often than I do, and want a healthcare provider closer to home, so my healthcare provider advises you to choose someone who will put you at ease. Even if the person you’ve selected doesn’t introduce the subject of painful sex during your initial consultation, you can help him or her along by saying, “I’m having vaginal pain, and sometimes it hurts when we’re intimate.” Good healthcare professionals “always want to know about your concerns,” my healthcare provider asserted. It may be a good idea to set up a separate appointment from your routine examination to discuss your menopausal symptoms. The FabOverFifty survey listed 11 of them. Vaginal dryness ranked first, affecting 61 percent of the respondents!
Yes, postmenopausal painful sex is a fairly common condition. It’s time that you learned how you can do something about it. Go to www.PauseSexPain.com to learn more about the campaign and how to feel comfortable discussing this condition with your healthcare provider.