symptom checklist

Are you experiencing burning, itching or painful sex? This print-and-go checklist will help you to identify symptoms and start a conversation with your health care professional.

print and go

Download and print these 10 questions to ask your health care professional about vaginal dryness and painful intercourse.

Menopause and Your Sexual Health: When Dryness Equals Discomfort

woman sitting in a fieldAlthough they gladly said "good riddance" when it came to their tampons and pads, some postmenopausal women may not be so pleased to bid farewell to the natural lubrication they experienced in their younger years.

What is the connection between menopause and vaginal dryness?

During menopause, when estrogen levels start to drop, the vaginal walls become thinner, less elastic and less lubricated. This can result in a number of symptoms, including vaginal dryness and dyspareunia – or pain during sexual intercourse – which is said to be one of the most bothersome vaginal symptoms of menopause. Decreased lubrication can also cause discomfort, bleeding and tearing of the vaginal tissues during intercourse.

Is it normal?
If you are postmenopausal and experiencing painful intercourse or vaginal dryness, take comfort in knowing you are not alone. According to a survey of women ages 40 to 84, more than half of postmenopausal women surveyed (56 percent) experienced vaginal dryness. In fact, 83 percent who experience vaginal dryness say the dryness bothers them "a little to a great deal." What's more, one in four of the postmenopausal women surveyed (26 percent) reported they experienced painful intercourse.

Why am I experiencing vaginal dryness and the related pain during sex?
Why the decrease in vaginal moisture and the resulting painful sex with menopause?

The most common cause is declining estrogen.

The hormone estrogen helps keep the vagina healthy by maintaining its elasticity and lubrication. As a woman ages, her ovaries produce increasingly less estrogen, leading to a thinner, less flexible and drier vagina.