Your Vagina: Use It or Lose It.

Recently a friend was at a lecture about menopause and the thing that shocked her most was VAGINAL ATROPHY. She had never heard of it before, and was horrified at the prospect. Sometimes, with all the information out there in cyber space, I am shocked at what we don’t know. I asked about a dozen other women, and same thing, no one had heard of it, and upon learning what it is, all were equally horrified.

I am once again the bearer of bad news. Vaginal atrophy is a very real thing. Sorry. It even sounds bad and scary.

Vaginal atrophy occurs when we have less estrogen, and therefore usually occurs after menopause. The walls of the vagina get thinner, dry out and become inflamed. This results in not only in the obvious: painful intercourse, but in a bunch of annoying and potentially harmful side effects, including but not limited to:

  • Vaginal dryness, burning and/or discharge
  • Genital itching
  • Burning or urgency with urination
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Increased risk of urinary tract infections
  • Light bleeding after intercourse

Lots of docs think we should use the name that includes the urinary symptoms because they are such a big part of the problem. Does genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) make it more or less palatable? I’m not sure, but once again, this is my callout to women … don’t suffer in silence. There are things you can do, and the first one is something you should be doing anyway. Have more sex.

Read: Ten Reasons You Should Have Sex Tonight

Using the vagina for one of its two intended purposes (the other being childbirth) will increase blood flow to the area and keep the tissue healthier and the muscles stronger. Give yourself time for sex. More foreplay will give your vagina — which is still young and beautiful at heart — adequate time to respond. Additionally, using a water-based lubricant will help to keep things moving, protect fragile tissue and make the experience even more enjoyable. No man? No problem. Use a vibrator. Also, once you are in the sometimes wicked throes of menopause, use a vaginal moisturizer every couple days, making sure to reach the inside as well. Dry and brittle is no way to jump into what can be the best years of your life!


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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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