Today is World Menopause Day and it’s worth taking a lateral look at this year’s theme, Heart Health Matters.
While the leaders of the medical world concern themselves with the effects of plummeting oestrogen on cardiovascular disease, other matters of the heart also suffer during The Change…love is challenged when sex becomes difficult.
And why does sex become difficult during the menopause? There are multiple factors, starting with loss of oestrogen leading to loss of libido, and loss of quality of the vaginal tissue. Both can lead to relationship problems and break-ups…unnecessarily broken hearts, given that vaginal dryness can be easily solved by using the moisturiser Hyalofemme just once every three days – including for women who don’t’ want to or can’t take HRT, such as cancer patients.
Dr Karen Gardiner says: “The incidence, severity and repercussions of vaginal dryness are poorly recognised. The friction can cause pain that makes it difficult to even walk. Some women do seek help and discover that they can get Hyalofemme on prescription, some buy it over the counter, but many more do not find a solution. Instead, their formerly loving and fulfilling sex lives ebb away with their oestrogen tide, but do not flow back. That has to change.”
In 2007, the support group Menopause Matters estimated that there were more than three million dry vaginas in the UK.
While many hot flushes and other symptoms of perimenopause may vanish after The Change, vaginal dryness stays, and it gets worse – a study showed that 60% of women have symptoms after the fourth year of the menopause (Dennerstein, Obstet Gynecol 2000). Since more of us are living longer, it follows that the number of dry vaginas will increase, potentially leading to a lot of family tragedies. Yet there are still women in their 80s and beyond who enjoy regular sex, mostly because they chose to find help.
Despite 75% of women reporting that their symptoms had a negative impact on their lives in another study, only 4% attributed these symptoms to vaginal dryness (Nappi, Kokot kierepa Climateric 2012).
Vaginal dryness is a term that few of us are comfortable with, and fewer still fully understand – sometimes women talk about itching or burning or pain without realising it is in fact dryness. It sounds as if it’s an embarrassing but a fairly minor functional issue, an inconvenience. But when it happens during the perimenopause, which is already usually a time of heightened emotions and anxiety levels, it can cause severe physical and emotional problems.
The vagina’s normal condition is bright red, plump and moist, it is an area that enjoys a good blood supply. That blood supply is optimised by a wealth of good sex – the phrase “a healthy vagina is a well-used one” is often quoted at sexual medicine conferences. With declining oestrogen levels, the vaginal lining becomes thinner, the cells are less able to hold moisture so it appears pale pink, sometimes bluish, and is less elastic as the blood supply also decreases.
Dr Gardiner says: “Without the use of a mirror and some yoga practice the average woman won’t notice that her vagina is a different colour or that its walls are thinner. But she – and her partner – will notice the dryness.”
The menopause brings mostly bad news: hot flushes, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, declining heart and bone health. But not enough attention is paid to the dryness of the vagina, officially known as vaginal atrophy. Yes, that’s right, it shrivels up like a raisin. This dryness causes friction, which leads to tiny cuts and grazes. And because another effect of dropping oestrogen levels is a change in vaginal pH, these are more likely to become infected because the acidic nature of the vaginal secretions keeps harmful bacteria at bay.
Symptoms vary from woman to woman, ranging from those who find any kind of movement extremely painful to those who find that they can’t enjoy a roll on the rug in front of the fire as much as they once did.
This can be devastating. Pain during sex doesn’t make for a heart-warming encounter, and dryness during intercourse can challenge their sense of themselves as fully functioning women. Introducing lubricant works for some but ruins the spontaneity for others.
Hyalofemme is made with hyaluronic acid, a hygroscopic molecule with a high affinity for water. Because hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the body, it feels natural within the vagina and doesn’t cause the irritations that sometimes occur in such a sensitive area. Hyalofemme’s unique, optimised formula, Hydeal-D®, is a Low Molecular Weight version, which means that it can hold much more water per molecule than standard hyaluronic acid and it is small enough to penetrate the cell wall (Sandri, Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 2004). Its slow and constant release of water keeps the vaginal cells plump and elastic over the course of three days. This in turn means no friction, no micro-lesions and no problems with sex.
This is a completely different mode of action to a lubricant or moisturiser which simply introduce water or oil-based products into the vaginal cavity. There is scientific data to suggest that continued use of Hyalofemme can even reverse vaginal atrophy (Shuai-Bin Liu et al. 2014). And it has been proven to be as effective as 1% oestrogen cream (Chen J, et al, 2013).
Dr Gardiner adds: “The irony is not just that Mother Nature plays such a cruel trick on women in their middle years when they should be enjoying the freedom of empty nests and long, uninterrupted evenings of naked relaxation with their partners, but also that so many women do not seek help. Because vaginal dryness can be solved immediately with Hyalofemme.
“This fast-acting and natural-feeling vaginal moisturiser generally needs to be used just once every three days for couples to be able to enjoy spontaneous sex again. It’s non-hormonal so it’s great for women who can’t or don’t want to use hormone therapies. It’s not messy and doesn’t cause discharge, so it can be used discreetly if women don’t want to discuss their dryness with their partners.
“Feedback from women who have used Hyalofemme is that it has changed their lives. I only wish more women could make this change during The Change, to improve their lives too.”
World Menopause Day is 18 October 2016
Dr Karen Gardiner is the founder of Purple Orchid Pharma, the women’s self-care company, which is dedicated to supporting women to make good choices that will help them to live longer in better health. This is in line with the “life-course approach” of preventative medicine set out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Dr Gardiner says: “The concept of self-care rather than health care is all about patients being actively involved in what’s good for them, rather than being passively treated for our various health issues.
“By taking care of ourselves as well as we do of our loved ones, and by making informed choices, we can live longer, in better health. Purple Orchid supports women from 16 to 66 and beyond, by providing relevant and reliable information about reproductive health systems and in some cases supporting self-care products. Our goal is to help women help themselves.”
For more information about Hyalofemme see www.hyalofemme.co.uk or Facebook/Twitter pages.
For articles about menopause and sexual health by leading psychosexual therapist Angela Gregory, including “HRT – Husband Replacement Therapy?” see www.healthewomen.co.uk
KAY COX firstname.lastname@example.org 07770 412 505
LANA ORTON email@example.com 07582 458535