As if hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain weren't enough, menopause brings along a whole new set of changes to a woman's body. And guess what? Your lady bits are not exempt from this midlife metamorphosis. Here's a heads-up on what you might experience down below during menopause, because, ladies, knowledge is power (and it sure beats getting caught off guard).
1. The vagina's microbiome gets a shake-up
The microbiome refers to the community of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) that live in our bodies—and yes, that includes our vaginas. During menopause, the decrease in estrogen can cause the vaginal microbiome to change.
This can lead to an imbalance in the bacteria, potentially causing more infections like bacterial vaginosis or yeast infection more often. While not exactly a party in your pants, these conditions are common and easily treatable.
2. Sex may require a little extra TLC
As estrogen levels drop, the vagina's natural lubrication may decrease, leading to vaginal dryness and making sex feel more like a friction fest than the pleasurable affair it once was. But hey, don't let that get you down! Try spending more time in foreplay and slowing intimacy down to really enjoy every touch, caress, and kiss. And there's a world of fantastic lubricants waiting to glide into your bedroom.
3. A burning sensation when you urinate
If you find yourself cursing the porcelain throne during menopause, you're not alone. The decrease in estrogen can cause the tissues in your urinary tract to become thinner, drier, and less elastic. This can lead to a burning sensation when you pee, making bathroom breaks less of a relief and more of a dreaded event. But on the bright side, it's a great excuse to drink more water and stay hydrated!
4. Coughing may come with a surprise
Achoo! Oops. If you find yourself leaking a little urine when you cough, sneeze, or laugh during menopause, you're not alone. The hormonal changes that come with menopause can weaken your bladder’s ability to control itself, alongside weakened pelvic floor muscles, which help support your bladder and prevent leaks, it can be a recipe for the occasional leakage. The good news is that there are exercises you can do to strengthen these muscles and keep your bladder in check. Who knew that menopause would come with a built-in workout plan?
Menopause can be a wild ride, and your vagina is strapped in for the journey. Whether it's a new look, a shifting bacterial balance, or unexpected leaks, it's essential to remember that these changes are a natural part of life. So, embrace the adventure, invest in some quality lubricant, and don't hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider about your concerns.