Vaginal atrophy is an uncomfortable condition related to falling estrogen levels that affects many women. There are many effective natural treatments for vaginal atrophy, one of which is having more sex.
What Is Vaginal Atrophy?
Vaginal atrophy is a collection of unpleasant vaginal symptoms caused by a lack of the hormone estrogen. Because this condition is due to lack of estrogen, it is most commonly seen in women going through menopause, as menopause is a time when estrogen levels fall dramatically. However, estrogen levels can also be compromised by hormonal contraceptives, childbirth and breastfeeding, certain cancer treatments and diabetes.
The exact symptoms of vaginal atrophy can vary from woman to woman. Possible signs that you are experiencing vaginal atrophy include:
- Bleeding after intercourse
- Burning with urination
- Decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual activity
- Discomfort or pain during intercourse
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Genital itching
- Loss of libido
- Needing to urinate more often
- Pale and thin appearance of the vagina
- Shortening and tightening of the vaginal canal
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal burning
- Vaginal discharge
- Vaginal dryness
Vaginal atrophy should receive treatment in order to avoid complications. Complications of vaginal atrophy can include vaginal infections and urinary tract infections.
The usual medical treatment for vaginal atrophy is estrogen therapy, which comes in various forms including topical creams and estrogen pills. However, estrogen therapies that enter the bloodstream can have potential side effects and health risks associated with them. Systemic estrogen therapy can cause abdominal pain, breast tenderness, headache, nausea, indigestion and vaginal bleeding. There is also some evidence that estrogen replacement therapies can increase the risk of certain cancers. For these reasons, it can be a great idea to use natural vaginal atrophy treatments instead.
Natural Treatments for Vaginal Atrophy
There are a wide variety of lifestyle changes and other solutions that will relieve symptoms of vaginal atrophy. These treatments will be most effective if you combine as many of them as possible. Solutions include:
- Not smoking, as smoking decreases estrogen levels, worsening vaginal atrophy.
- Avoiding perfumed products near the vagina including powders, soaps, deodorants, douches and scented personal lubricants.
- Getting plenty of exercise, which will improve blood flow to the vagina as well as help to balance hormones.
- Staying well-hydrated, as the vaginal lubrication you are lacking is made up of mostly water.
- Taking probiotic supplements.
- Eating more foods that are rich in fatty acids such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and fish.
- Eating more foods that are rich in isoflavones such as cherries, apples, celery, legumes and flaxseed.
- Taking an herbal supplement that balances hormones, such as maca root.
Why It’s Important to Keep Having Sex
The aforementioned vaginal atrophy treatments can be very helpful. However, it’s also very important to physically exercise the muscles of your vagina in order to keep them from further shrinking and weakening. The importance of physically stretching the vagina is evidenced by research that has found that women who have never had a vaginal birth are more likely to develop vaginal atrophy than women who have.
The main way you can do this is through sexual activity. Not only does sexual activity manually stimulate the muscles of the vagina, but it also improves blood flow to the genital region, further relieving symptoms.
Vaginal atrophy can easily prevent you from getting in the mood. However, you should have sex anyway in order to improve your condition. If you need a little boost to spark your libido, a natural libido-boosting supplement could help. When you have sex, be sure to use plenty of lubricant. Natural lubricants like coconut oil are great for vaginal atrophy. Without enough lubricant, you can injure the lining of your vagina, which will not only cause pain but also increase your chances of infection.
If you have vaginal atrophy, you most likely lack your normal amounts of natural lubrication. Using lubricant during sex will help with this, but it’s also important to give yourself extra time to become aroused. Extra time spent on foreplay and sexual acts that are pleasurable for you will increase your natural lubrication and further relieve your symptoms.
If you are unable to have frequent sex with a partner, you can also achieve similar, if not the same benefits through internal masturbation. You can do this with your fingers or with a sex toy. As with partnered sex, you should use plenty of personal lubricant.
After a certain point, you should seek medical advice from your doctor if your vaginal atrophy symptoms don’t improve. You should especially go to the doctor if your symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily life, if you have other symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes or if you experience bleeding, burning or unusual discharge.