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Sex After 40: How Aging Affects Your Vagina

Added to Articles on Tue 09/21/2010
Treatment
Treatment for thinning of the vaginal walls includes estrogen creams or tablets that can be inserted directly into the vagina; an estrogen patch you can change weekly; or a vaginal estrogen ring made of rubber or silicone, which can be kept in the vagina for 3 months. For an alternative to estrogen therapy, try moisturizing the vagina with a little olive oil.

Vaginal Atrophy
Reduced estrogen levels can also cause shrinkage of the vaginal mucosa, which results in narrowing of the vaginal opening called the vestibule. In this case, pain can occur during initial penetration but often subsides once the penis is deeper inside. About 90% of vaginal pain occurs in the vestibule region.

Treatment
Vaginal atrophy can be treated with vaginal dilators – available in different widths and sizes – to help improve the elasticity and pliability of the vagina. Treatment usually involves 5 minutes of daily use with a lubricant. Be sure to discuss with your gynecologist before trying this treatment.

Your pelvic floor – just like your biceps – is made of muscle. Sex on a regular basis actually helps keep your vagina in shape. Kegel muscle exercises help, too. Click here to learn how to exercise those love muscles.

Medication and Its Side Effects
Many common medications such as birth control pills, antihistamines and anti-depressants can cause vaginal dryness, which is already an issue after age 40, again due to lower estrogen. As a rule of thumb, medications that list dry mouth as a side effect also cause vaginal dryness.  Low libido is another common side effect associated with hormonal change and/or certain medications, especially anti-depressants in the SSRI (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) category.

Treatment
A variety of lubricants – oil-, water- and silicone-based – effectively combat vaginal dryness. Talk to your gynecologist to see what brand they recommend. Saliva also works well as a lubricant and can enhance foreplay.

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