In this special guest blog, Henpicked’s Deborah Garlick reflects on the lasting taboo of vaginal dryness, and explores how women can tackle this tricky issue.
It’s great that we’re talking about menopause more and starting to normalise it as the natural phase in every woman’s life. Yet vaginal dryness is another matter– even women who talk about menopause openly still shy away from this topic.
It can seriously affect a woman’s sense of wellbeing, physically and how she feels about herself. Not to mention her relationship with her partner. It’s very misunderstood; it’s far more than intimacy that’s affected. Many women experience symptoms of vaginal pain and discomfort throughout the day, whether that’s itching, dryness or soreness.
Vaginal Dryness- The Last Taboo
Henpicked: Menopause In The Workplace regularly run menopause awareness and education sessions for colleagues and vaginal dryness has only come up once during a session itself. Yet it’s a frequent question in one-to-one conversations afterwards – always in a hushed voice.
It’s been an education for me to learn how many women are affected. I had underestimated the impact it can have at work. Like many I guess, I associated it more with a woman’s sex life. But it can affect a woman far more than that. If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, it’s not something you leave at the threshold of your employer’s door or when you get on the bus, train or in the car to get to work. It can be there all the time. Some uniforms can be uncomfortable, sitting can be uncomfortable, standing can be uncomfortable. Imagine dryness, itching and soreness nagging you all day. It can really get you down and be upsetting and distressing.
Yet there are really effective solutions.
What can women do?
Talk to your GP or menopause expert. Understandably many women are embarrassed about it but it’s more common than you might think. It really is worth being brave and having the conversation. There are creams, vaginal
tablets or a ring containing oestrogen that can be prescribed and women tell us they work really well.
Read up on products available. Vaginal lubricants and moisturisers can be used either with HRT or on their own and can be very effective. They are available from your GP, chemists or online. Keep your eye out for products that contain irritants and stay away from anything that says it warms, cools or has flavours added, like those advertised to help with your sex life. Check out its pH balance too. And although your GP uses KY jelly when examining you, that’s not going to help dry vaginal symptoms.
The nice thing is also that some products, like Sylk, are discreetly packaged as well as working effectively. In fact, they look and sound more like a premium hand cream product, so can easily be slipped into your handbag for a
top up at lunchtime.
Help is out there, so whatever you do – don’t just put up with it.
Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace experts provide line manager training, colleague events, and policy and communications expertise so businesses can provide support to women through their menopause, and so retain their valuable, experienced workforce. Find out more by visiting their website.