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How to help vaginal dryness during sex and the menopause

07 Jun 2023 • 7 min read

Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause, but why does it happen? And are there any ways to try and manage it? We answer these questions and provide you with advice on how to feel a little more sexy, below.

Skip to: Intro | Causes | Libido | Managing dryness

A quick intro to menopause

Menopause is when your body experiences a lot of changes due to a shift in your hormones, which causes your periods to stop. It generally happens between ages 45 to 55, but of course this can vary.1  

Not sure about the difference between menopause and perimenopause? Essentially, perimenopause is the run up to your periods stopping – so you’ll likely experience the symptoms of menopause but may still have periods. You officially reach menopause once you haven’t had a period for over 12 months.

What causes vaginal dryness during menopause?

What causes vaginal dryness during menopause?

Many people experience vaginal dryness as a symptom of menopause, but why does this happen? It’s the drop in oestrogen that causes it. This hormonal shift can affect how much discharge or vaginal fluid you have, as there’s a reduction in glands that produce it.2 Additionally, oestrogen makes the lining of the vagina thicker and more elastic, as well as stimulating glycogen which encourages bacteria that protects against infections.3  

How does vaginal dryness impact sex with your partner?

Intimacy is super important for any romantic relationship, but without the right help, vaginal dryness may have an impact on your sex life. For example, the NHS lists the following ways that it could make you feel like you want to have less sex:2  

This may also have a knock-on effect on your mental health, so it’s important to check in with yourself and seek support if you feel like you need it.

How does menopause impact your libido?

As well as physical symptoms like dryness, some women feel like their libido dives off a cliff when they’re going through menopause. It’s probably down to a combination of things, like a decrease in testosterone and oestrogen, the discomfort that comes with vaginal dryness, having a reduced sex drive due to the change in hormone levels, having night sweats that can affect your energy levels and desire for sex, as well as emotional changes that don’t leave you in the right headspace to get intimate.4

And how can you overcome it?

You may not fancy getting jiggy with it all the time, but thankfully you can still enjoy sex during and after menopause. Here’s how:  

  • Be open: Communication is super important. Whether your sex life isn’t satisfying you, you’re finding it painful or, you just don’t fancy doing it at all, talk to your partner and see if you can work through it together.
  • Speak to a sex counsellor: They’ll assist you in getting to the nub of your sexual problems and find other ways to be intimate if penetrative sex is painful. Be tactile: Forget getting sexual, sometimes we can go days without even touching our partner. A quick hug or a cuddle on the couch goes a long way.  
  • Solo sex: Lock the door, switch off your phone and spend some time getting to know your changing body. It might surprise you! 
  • Pelvic floor: When your oestrogen levels drop, your pelvic muscles can become weaker, leading to less powerful orgasms. Pelvic floor exercises help to tone them, the NHS Squeezy app shows you how. 
  • And relaaaaax: If you’re feeling stressed and anxious, you’re unlikely to be thinking sexy thoughts. Taking time to relax every day can help you get in the mood. 
  • Ditch the hang-ups: As we get older, we tend to accept who we are more than we did when we were younger. So, ditch the insecurities about your changing body – it’s what you do with it that counts! 
How to manage vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness is uncomfortable, so why put up with it. Thankfully, there are some things you can try to help ease some of the discomfort. These include:2  

  • Water-based lubricant – remember, lube is your friend. So when things are heating up in the bedroom, try using some water-based lubricant to help make things more comfortable.
  • Keep it simple – when it comes to washing yourself, try to avoid using scented or perfumed products around your vagina.
  • Don’t forget about foreplay – it might not be the best idea to dive right into sex, so try to do some foreplay to help you to feel more aroused.
  • Omega-3 – it may also be worth considering supplements like omega-3 (or simply eating more omega-3 rich foods) to try and increase your natural lubrication.5,6,7,8
  • Speak to your GP – if you’re menopausal and you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, they may give you topical vaginal oestrogen products or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patches or medication.

The final say

The final say

Our final message is this, sex should be pleasurable whether you’re going through menopause or not. Using the advice above and seeking medical help may be able to improve your symptoms and let you enjoy getting intimate again.

Think you might be experiencing vaginal atrophy? You can learn more about what vaginal atrophy is and how to manage it in our guide.


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