During menopause, women frequently experience sexual symptoms that can be difficult to talk about. If you’re going through menopause, you may notice a lack of interest in sex, or physical changes that make you feel unattractive. At the same time, you may also be hesitant to bring these topics up in discussion, even with your health care provider. But, by avoiding difficult conversations, you leave yourself open to not fully understanding what you’re experiencing, or even worse, blaming yourself for things that are completely normal and not within your control. The symptoms women experience during menopause range in severity, and their impact on sexual function differs from woman to woman. That’s why AdvantageCare Physicians (ACPNY) strives to create an atmosphere and the care relationships to help you understand the changes you are experiencing and see your entire health picture. We pay attention to all of the factors that impact your health—physical, mental, and lifestyle. We want our practice to be a place where you are at ease having open, honest conversations about changes to your body, your sex life—everything. ACPNY will be your partner in managing the symptoms that come with this time of tremendous physical change—so that you can be your healthiest, happiest self.
Changes to Look Out for
Vaginal Atrophy and Dryness
Vaginal atrophy is the thinning of the walls of the vagina due to lower estrogen levels. It leads to a decrease in cells that secrete moisture and causes vaginal dryness. Vaginal atrophy can be at the root of some of the increasing feelings of disinterest in sex that you may experience during menopause. Be on the lookout for the following symptoms that could indicate vaginal atrophy:
- Decreased libido
- Painful sex
- Light bleeding after sex
- Frequent UTIs
- Involuntary leakage
Many women may be embarrassed to discuss these symptoms with their health care providers, and not bring them up, but that doesn’t have to be the case. At ACPNY, your provider is your partner and is there to empower your understanding of newly developing health concerns, and how to address them. Several options exist that can improve your quality of life, including over-the-counter moisturizers and water-based lubricants. Your provider will help you determine which options will work best for your specific needs.
Painful Sex and Reduced Libido
Changes, such as vaginal atrophy, can lead to increasingly painful sex. This pain can be both sharp and intense, and can occur any time before, during, or after sex, making it sometimes difficult to pinpoint the cause. Additionally, menopause can affect your libido in several ways:
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal atrophy
- Hot flashes
- Depression and mood swings
- Embarrassment about weight gain and other bodily menopause symptoms
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important that you talk to your partner and your doctor, so you can feel comfortable about the changes you are going through and begin any needed efforts toward managing discomfort.
During menopause, your body is transitioning in ways you’ve never experienced before. Menopause can cause the appearance of your breasts to change as estrogen levels decline, and it is even possible for your cup size to change during this time. Common physical changes to the breasts include:
- Stretch marks
- Downward pointing nipples
- Flattened appearance
- Wider space between breasts
Keep in mind that all of this is normal, but if you notice the development of cysts or leakage, you should schedule an appointment with a provider for an examination.
What You Can Do Now
Menopausal changes can happen fast. For each woman, they are different and often uncomfortable, but you should always remember that what you are going through is probably normal. Your provider and ACPNY Care Team can help you every step of the way, by developing a plan that helps you navigate the stages of change that come with menopause. When it comes to assessing your health and managing the symptoms of menopause, ACPNY looks at each issue in the context of your entire health picture, addressing the many physical and mental tolls women experience. By informing, listening, and guiding, providers empower women to feel in control of the changes they face during menopause, and how to respond to them. If menopause is on your mind, reach out to your ACPNY provider to start the discussion that will help you take charge of your experience.