It’s exciting that women’s sexual health has become an increasingly “hot topic” in the media, and we’re less embarrassed to talk to our doctors about the changes in our bodies, beginning in our 40s.
Faced with decreasing estrogen levels, many women will experience some form of vaginal discomfort, such as dryness, tightness, pain and an uncomfortable burning sensation. While perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms affect our overall health, they also can affect our sexual health. After all, who can enjoy sex when it hurts?
Vaginal dilation therapy is a safe and effective way to strengthen and retrain the vagina to alleviate painful intercourse. Here’s what you should know:
Vaginal dilators are phallic devices used to restore the capacity and elasticity of the vagina. Vaginal dilators, like those from Soul Source, are made of easy-to-clean silicone rubber that resembles body tissue and retains body heat for comfort. The dilators come in eight sizes, and are available individually or packaged in sets, depending on the severity of your tightness. A gynecologist can help figure out what sizes are right for you.
1. Decreasing estrogen levels can cause the vaginal tissue to become thinner and dryer, leading to a condition called Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause. Women also can experience tightness and discomfort during intercourse, a condition called dyspareunia.
2. Radiation for certain cancer treatments, such as bladder, rectum, lymph glands, uterus, or cervix, can cause a condition called vaginal stenosis, which is the narrowing and/or loss of flexibility of the vagina. Chemotherapy also can trigger symptoms of early menopause, including Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause.
3. A condition called vaginismus (pelvic floor myalgia) causes involuntary spasms, and the vagina can actually close up. Sexual health experts agree that vaginismus accounts for many unconsummated sexual relationships as well as painful sex and difficult pelvic exams.
“Dilators remain mysterious and intimidating to many women and frankly to many health care practitioners as well. As a gynecologist with expertise in female sexual health, I rely heavily on vaginal dilators as a mainstay treatment for women with painful intercourse due to vaginal atrophy of menopause, tense vaginal muscles, or as a result of vaginal surgery or radiation,” says Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a New York gynecologist concentrating on women’s sexual health.
Learn more about vaginal dilation therapy here.
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