What our mothers didn’t tell us about aging and menopause.
I have just completed an update of my New York Times bestseller Before the Change. During my research, it struck me how the female population is indeed living longer and living more years of our life post-menopause. Therefore, we are spending more time suffering from atrophic vaginitis and the negative effects of aging and menopause. It’s a topic that nobody is talking about, so I will.
Postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis, which is more commonly known as vaginal atrophy, is an inflammatory state where there is thinning of the walls of the vagina due to decreased levels of the hormone estrogen. Lubrication of the vagina—both during intercourse and on a daily basis—decreases, resulting in discomfort. The mucosa on the inside the vagina and the skin on the outside on the labia loses its elasticity—which often results in painful intercourse.
Based on an international survey of 3,250 postmenopausal women between the ages of 55-65, the following stats became apparent:
• Nearly 45% of all postmenopausal women suffer from vaginal atrophy
• 63% did not know that vaginal atrophy is a chronic condition
Natural menopause is the major cause of vaginal atrophy but there can be other stimulators of this chronic condition including pregnancy, child birth and breastfeeding.
Chemotherapy or radiation done for cancer treatment can also cause premature menopause and result in vaginal atrophy. Vaginal atrophy and menopause, in turn, are risk factors for other conditions that profoundly affect lifestyle including bladder leakage and overactive bladder symptoms (that feeling of gotta go, gotta go!).
As I speak to my doctors and my friends about my experience, one thing comes to mind. “Why don’t women talk about this? Why haven’t my friends and I talked more about this?”
Women need to be advocates for each other and make sure that none of us feel alone in our suffering. My research on these issues has shown me that every one of these issues are common, with many women having more than one issue. Women often make lifestyle changes—they stop exercising, stop having intercourse, and have disruption of their relationships or even divorce as a result of these issues. We need to talk openly about issues that affect our lives so profoundly and make sure that we are supporting each other—not subscribing to any social taboos that keep women from seeking the help they need and decreasing their quality of life.
Fortunately, I’ve come across a new treatment and a physician that I believe can offer women some relief. Dr. Natalie Drake in The Woodlands, Texas offers a new procedure called ThermiVa which uses radio-frequency to treat the vagina and perineum.
• vaginal atrophy,
• stress urinary incontinence,
• urinary urgency,
• painful sex due to dryness,
• sexual dysfunction,
• vaginal laxity
Plus, it improves the cosmetic appearance of the labia.
ThermiVa is an office-based, non-surgical procedure that gently uses heat to regenerate and remodel collagen resulting in better structural support to tissue. It has also been shown in biopsy specimen to improve the thickness and quality of the vaginal mucosa. Many women have had their lives changed by this procedure, and we need to be spreading the word.
I would encourage all of you who are experiencing vaginal atrophy to check out this procedure and find a “Dr. Natalie Drake” in your area.
We all need to support the women in our lives by talking about the issues that are important to them and affecting their quality of life. Don’t let anyone suffer alone. And if you are one of the many women who suffer from any of these issues, know there is hope.
You are welcome to contact Dr. Drake or a physician near you who performs ThermiVa and see if you could benefit from this amazing new treatment.
For more information see Dr. Natalie Drake’s website at www.Practice-Happiness.com.
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