Keeping Your Vagina Happy & Comfortable Throughout Menopause & Beyond
Written by Dr. Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG, Chief Medical Officer
You know the old saying, “there are only a few guarantees in life...” and I’m not talking about death and taxes. I’m referring to menopause and vaginal dryness. The sooner we ladies accept these truths, the better prepared we will be to actively manage what often takes us by surprise, and in this case it’s vaginal dryness.
Unlike hot flashes and night sweats, which will eventually cease, vaginal changes due to diminished estrogen production during menopause are chronic and progressive over time, if left untreated. Women complain of an unpleasant and constant “awareness of their vagina”. They typically suffer with gradual and worsening symptoms including: dryness, irritation, itching, pain and bleeding during sex, as well as proneness to infection and urinary complaints.
The medical term for these uncomfortable symptoms is vaginal atrophy. Anyone in menopause is at risk but complaints are typically more intense and more sudden in onset, especially in those women who smoke, those with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy or taking anti-estrogen medications and in those who have had their ovaries removed before natural menopause.
So, while vaginal atrophy can be chronic and progressive, there are options available to heal, hydrate and renew thinning vaginal tissue.
Enter, hyaluronic acid; a naturally occurring super moisturizer. It is found in nature, as well as is naturally occurring in the body, and can retain up to 1,000 times its weight in moisture. It has been used for years both safely and effectively in the dermatology, anti-aging, cosmetic and orthopedic realms.
Revaree® is a solid, easy to use, mess and applicator free insert placed vaginally every 2-3 days, ideally at bedtime. Revaree® is easily inserted manually with your fingers into the vagina with the rounded edge first. The insert dissolves at body temperature in approximately 30 minutes. Women typically report improvement in symptoms of atrophy in just 9 days and research confirms these findings. Revaree® is best used regularly, since it won’t be long after discontinuing use that those miserable symptoms of atrophy will quickly recur. Trust me!
Unlike with other vaginal creams where “what goes up must come down…” women will not notice the same mess or copious discharge after using Revaree®. Some women have reported a minute oily droplet in the toilet upon awakening; but rest assured, this is not unusual and is nothing to worry about. In rare situations, women have reported a burning sensation with initial use; the vast majority notice this quickly resolves. As with any new product, if burning or irritation persists or worsens, use should be discontinued and a visit with your gynecologist is in order. It’s important to remember that some women might be initially sensitive to ingredients.
Keep in mind, when it comes to feminine hygiene and bath products during menopause, less is more. Harsh fragrances can irritate the delicate genital area. Douches are a definite no-no since the vaginal pH can be disrupted and lead to infection. Fun fact; the vagina has its own mechanisms to keep itself clean and pH balanced; vigorous scrubbing on the inside is just not necessary.
Less estrogen means less blood flow to the vagina. Less blood flow leads to atrophy. The solution? Have more sex. Sexual arousal and orgasm, whether partnered or solo, can work to enhance blood flow and maintain a healthy vagina.
Now is the opportune moment to ask ourselves, isn’t it time to take an active, or better yet, a proactive role in maintaining our vaginal health? Remember, vaginal atrophy is treatable. We know menopause is a fact of life; so bring it on! Vaginal dryness, on the other hand? No thanks! Moisturize regularly. After all, we surely would not skip our regular facial moisturizer or body lotion. Don’t forget your vagina.