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: :   Lifestyle Sexual Health Keeping Sex Alive

Keeping Sex Alive

HFN 020 KeepingSexAlive 1 29296434The symptoms that accompany menopause can prove to be quite uncomfortable and stressful, and have the ability to completely alter your lifestyle. One of the first and most common casualties of menopause is your sexual health.

Menopause and Sex
When you approach menopause, your body produces less and less estrogen. One of the effects that stems from this hormonal imbalance is vaginal dryness, itchiness, and atrophy. The ensuing discomfort often brings with it a lack of sexual desire. When you feel any kind of irritation in your vagina, sex is the furthest thing from your mind. Of course, sex isn't something you should have to give up just because your body is changing. There are ways to combat your sexual discomfort.

The simplest thing to do is use water-soluble lubricants, which are easily available in the pharmacy. Avoid the use of lubricants that aren't water-soluble, as these types of lubes can damage condoms. Ask your doctor which products are right for you.

Another option is the use of estrogen, which can be administered in two ways. One way is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which involves taking doses of estrogen, and sometimes progesterone (or its synthetic equivalent, progestin), orally. HRT replaces the hormones your body is no longer producing, and some studies even suggest that it can help prevent osteoporosis and bowel cancer. Be aware, however, that other studies have linked HRT with an increased risk of breast cancer. Every woman is different, and a chat with your doctor can provide insight on the personal risks you could be taking with HRT.

The second method of employing estrogen is through the use of topical creams that apply estrogen directly to the vulva and/or vagina. This can help you achieve vaginal health through the use of hormones without the risks associated with HRT. Should you go this route, be sure to pay close attention to the rest of your menopausal symptoms. If they are affected, it means the estrogen contained in the cream is finding its way into your bloodstream, and you should speak with your doctor immediately.

Finally, there is a prescription micro-patch, applied to your abdomen twice weekly, that delivers a very small amount of estrogen. For some women, this is adequate to minimize dryness and help with hot flashes.

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Hot Flashes and Sex
Hot flashes are another symptom of menopause that can impact your sex life. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to alleviate hot flashes that aid in the return of your sexual desire. While there are a host of over-the-counter products available, some women have found diets containing soy can ease their symptoms. Before employing the use of any medications or natural remedies, you should consult your doctor. Your physician will be able to tell you if the steps you're taking are safe for you, and he or she can offer insight into what products can work best for your specific symptoms.

For more information on the treatment of menopausal symptoms, see our section on Treatments & Therapies. ♀

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