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Painful Sex? Women, Speak Up!

By HERWriter
 
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when sex is painful, women need to speak up Auremar/PhotoSpin

Vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA) is a chronic medical condition experienced by many postmenopausal women. Symptoms include dyspareunia (painful intercourse), vaginal dryness, and trouble with urination and bladder infections. It may affect sexual activities, relationships and daily activities.

Ricki Pollycove, M.D., M.S., a San Francisco-based OB/GYN specializing in menopause management, said VVA is a result of the biological changes of low estrogen in menopause.

“I tell my patients if the same thing happened to your mouth, you’d no longer be able to have a soup spoon go through your mouth; you could only accommodate a teaspoon and then eventually a quarter teaspoon. That’s how much the vagina actually shrinks in both diameter and length.”

It’s estimated as many as one in three women diagnosed with VVA due to menopause experiences painful intercourse, wrote AARP.com. With all this discomfort and pain, you'd think women would be avidly seeking relief. Not so.

According to a recent survey in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, few women even attributed these VVA symptoms to menopause or hormonal changes. More alarming is that only 56 percent of participants ever discussed VVA symptoms with their doctor.

Some attribute this to women feeling embarrassed about discussing the subject or that it’s not worth mentioning because they believe treatment is unavailable.

In an effort to help women open up about this problem, Academy Award-nominated actress Virginia Madsen signed on as the spokesperson for the campaign “Finding the Words,” which is aimed at encouraging women to discuss and find treatment for this condition, stated FoxNews.com.

Madsen herself is nearing menopause. “As such, I wanted to be as informed as I could. A lot of women are just suffering in silence, not talking to their doctors about it, thinking it’s something they’ve done or they’re not doing. This is not okay because this is a real medical issue that can be treated.”

Dr. Pollycove added, “Women are putting up with this misery and basically just shutting down their sexuality.”

A lot of women simply don’t know how to start the conversation, said Madsen.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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