Vaginal Atrophy, Atrophic Vaginitis… Hmm, not very positive or friendly sounding words. As an OB/GYN Nurse working in a variety of clinical settings for years, I heard these terms quite frequently.
My reaction was varied depending on the day, my mood, etc.:
- negative, why do female health matters always seem to be labeled in negative ways
- clinical (see negative above), why does a normal aging function of a woman’s body get labeled like it was a disease? Women are not supposed to be reproductively capable for life. It only stands to reason that the reproductive parts of our bodies will not always function like a highly fertile 20 year old.
- won’t happen to me… sort of like the won’t get pregnant the first time I have sex or as a teen. We are invincible young people and our vaginas will never get old. Our faces won’t wrinkle. Our boobs won’t sag. Oh yeah, and no grey hairs either!
Ta Da! Time to think about these things as I am now 50 and continue to work with women around their health and health care issues. When I hear the words vaginal atrophy or my clients describing symptoms about their vulvas and vaginas, well, the whole things seems closer to home. At 50 years old I can see the changes in my body, in my reproductive tract, and my general level of energy. (Dorothy may not be in Kansas anymore and I am definitely not feeling 20 anymore!)
- thinning of the vaginal walls and labia
- shortening and tightening of the vaginal canal making intercourse difficult or impossible
- lack of vaginal moisture (vaginal dryness), vulva dryness
- vaginal & vulva burning (inflammation)
- spotting of blood after intercourse
- discomfort or pain during intercourse
- pain or burning with urination
- more frequent urinary tract infections
- urinary incontinence (involuntary leakage when you cough, sneeze, laugh, lift that bag of groceries or your grandchild…)
So what’s a gal to do to keep her vaginal area comfy and functioning at the capacity she desires at any given time in her peri-menopausal or menopausal life? I have suggestions. They are just that, suggestions. Find what works for you and do it. What works may change over the seasons of the year and at different stages of your life.
- Whole food diet: Your body CANNOT function in a healthy manner unless you feed it with the foods nature intended. Yes, for those of you who have listened to me say this for years… decades, I do get sick of hearing myslef say it, write it, repeat it over and over. The fact of the matter is your body cells function best with real food. Anything else passing through that trap door on your face and you risk the consequences: unhealthy body including that voluptuous vagina and her friends the vulva, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. And yes, I will continue to rattle on about whole food eating the rest of my life.
- Herbs to THE Rescue: Herbs are foods and will contribute to your whole food lifestyle and your cellular health.
- Make a wild yam cream to slather onto your vulva and into your vagina. My recipe is in this earlier blog post: https://wisewomenredtent.com/2014/04/18/voluptuous-vaginas/ I made the wild yam lube cream and will share it in a video in my Herbal Online Course for teaching you the basics of starting to make and use your own herbal preparations: http://www.paulayoumellrn.com/herbs-for-health-healing/ Join me for this fun, informative, and health liberating 1 week course.
- Use herbs in tinctures, medicinal strength teas, and capsules to enrich your female organ’s health. Three herbs that I love for female health are stinging nettles, red raspberry leaf, and red clover blossoms. Make use of the plant magic we have in our world to prevent and heal health concerns.
- Avoid synthetic hormones: birth control pills, estrogen replacement, etc. While the short term fix for the inflamed and irritated vagina may seem liberating… the long term consequences are not worth it. Let see: Cancer or an aging vagina… hmm, I’ll work with and around my vagina’s needs thank you very much.
- Continue to have a regular sex life. Having sex on a regular basis helps to keep the vagina juicy and the tissues stronger. This makes sense as having sex, having orgasms, enjoying playfulness with your partner releases sexual hormones that keep us younger in more ways than one!
As I walk daily into the menopausal years, I welcome them with open arms. Every season in life brings with it its beauty, its challenges, and the potential for growth as a human being. In the meantime I listen and learn from my elders: what did they do to naturally ease menopausal concerns and welcome their wise woman years? Womanly wisdom is wisdom meant to be shared.