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What to Do When Sex Gets Painful

Dr. Tara Allmen is an OB/GYN specializing in menopausal medicine, so she knows this stuff forwards and backwards. Find more helpful resources on Dr. Allmen’s blog

More than 60% of women in their fifties and sixties are sexually active, and they can face sexual health challenges due to menopause. One of the most important issues is called postmenopausal vaginal atrophy or more commonly, vaginal dryness, which can lead to painful sex. This is due to the physiological changes of menopause and the loss of estrogen. Nothing reduces libido more than painful sex!

Women have choices when dealing with painful sex due to menopausal dryness. Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers can help improve the discomfort, but only estrogen can restore health to the vaginal tissue. Hormone therapy can be used systemically, which means that your whole body is exposed to the hormones, or locally, which means only your vagina and bladder get the attention they deserve!

I always tell my patients that it really does not matter whether they are sexually active or not. Women are still entitled to a healthy vagina! That requires some care and attention. Since all women will experience this menopausal change, it is important to get comfortable talking about vaginal health with a health care professional. I start the conversation with my own patients thusly, “Let’s talk about your vagina!” Try a similar approach. Your healthcare professional may not be comfortable bringing up the topic until you do!

People who are sexually active live longer and healthier lives. So even though your libido is not what it used to be, which is a whole other menopause-related topic, use the motivation of health to be your inspiration. And since many of you may not have a partner, may not like your partner, or may not have a partner who is interested or capable of being sexual, you can always be sexual by yourself!

Get your facts about this and other topics related to menopause and sexual health, and continue to experience the joy of sex on your own terms as long as you are able.

Dr. Tara Allmen

Dr. Tara Allmen is one of America’s leading experts in menopausal medicine. She is a Nationally Certified Menopause Practitioner and highly respected in the medical community. Inspired to reach millions of American women over the age of 40 with accurate scientific information that can help them, Dr. Allmen has appeared numerous times on local and national television, and created an extensive library of video information available on her website, Dr. Allmen earned her bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and her medical degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Allmen lives in New York City with her husband, Lawrence M. Kimmel, their two children, and a small dog named Sadie. Credentials: - Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist - National Certified Menopause Practitioner - Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists - Dr. Oz Show Medical Advisory Board - CEO, The Allmen Foundation - Wife, Mother and Friend

Monday 8th of June 2015

Tara, Eleven years ago I was diagnosed with estrogen positive breast cancer. I've had a total hysterectomy and cannot take estrogen. My vaginal tissues is papery thin. My husband died four years ago and I haven't put myself out there to meet anyone because of this. Suggestions? Thanks, Brenda

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