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VAGINAL ATROPHY AND STUDENT LIFE - Sheree Hargreaves

sheree - early menopause vaginal atrophy May 02, 2023

Vaginal atrophy is a very common symptom of menopause. When oestrogen levels reduce, the tissues and lining of the vaginal thins and become dry. This can cause soreness, discomfort, burning and itchiness. Although this is an awful symptom at the average age of menopause, it is also extremely hard to cope with during early menopause.  

But don’t worry, it is not all disastrous! There are products and medicines that can help you if you think you’re experiencing the same thing as me! 

The first time I experienced vulva and vaginal pain were in secondary school. I could not sit down for long periods of time, which impacted my ability to concentrate in class or focus on long exams. I couldn’t wear certain pairs of trousers and jeans. I felt too embarrassed to say anything as I just did not know what was happening. I always thought that the pain I was feeling was thrush or a urine infection, but all of the pessaries I inserted and the cranberry juice I drank did not help me at all. Until university, I reached out to my doctors about it when I was brave enough. I learned that I was experiencing vaginal atrophy for years and suffering from untreated pain.  

My GP mentioned that I needed to start using local oestrogen, so I was personally prescribed ‘Vagifem 10mg’. I inserted it vaginally every day for two weeks to replace the hormones that were not there naturally. I gradually reduced the use to once a week as the doctors suggested. The amount that you need is usually discussed with doctors as HRT is very individual and unique to you. Alongside HRT, I was advised to start using vaginal moisturiser and non-hormonal creams externally and sometimes internally (depending on safety for the vagina). These can be prescribed directly by your doctor but I did not get along with the one they gave me and decided to source it elsewhere. I have tried many vaginal moisturisers and the best ones that I have found are the ‘YES® VM Vaginal Moisturiser’ (safe for external and internal use) and the HelloGloriah ‘The Stevie’ (safe for external use only). I use both products after most showers and before and after sex. 

Just like your face and body, your vagina needs to stay moisturised too! I feel immediate relief from the vulva pain with the use of HRT and moisturisers.  

Top tip: Glycerine is BAD for your vagina! Do not purchase vaginal products with any type of sugar in them as they can give you vaginal infections and thrush.  

There are too many women suffering from vaginal atrophy and experiencing painful sex, uncomfortable clothing and unable to do certain activities but do not have the courage to speak about it! I

f you are in need, please reach out to a medical professional and ask for treatment. We should, together, break this taboo.  

 

You may also find our Early Menopause page helpful - If you are looking for support or have questions please message us at Pause and Unite and we can help connect you.  

 

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