The decrease of estrogen levels and other sex steroid hormones can happen naturally with menopause or can be forced medically for several reasons. The lack of estrogen can lead to some changes in certain areas of the body, like the bladder, vulva and vagina. When some people hear the word menopause, they think of age, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and weight gain. Although all those symptoms are possible that is not all that the lack of estrogen can cause, but unfortunately women are not discussing all the symptoms they experience with their doctors.
There is a new term that doctors are using to describe various menopausal symptoms and signs associated with physical changes of the lower urinary tract, vagina and vulva. Studies are finding that woman who experience vaginal atrophy are also experiencing urinary symptoms such as urgency, dysuria, and recurrent urinary tract infections1. The term used to describe all these symptoms is called ‘genitourinary syndrome of menopause’ (GSM).
Symptoms and signs of GSM include:
Decreased lubrication during sexual activity
Discomfort or pain during sex
Loss of sexual desire
Irritation, burning, or itching of the vagina or the vulva
Painful or difficult urination
Urinary frequency and urgency
Urinary tract infections
Some estimates show that nearly half of post-menopausal woman experience symptoms of GSM, but few seek treatment. Thoughts are that woman are either embarrassed to talk with their doctor or do not want to take medications that can cause other problems, so they chose to try and ignore their symptoms. Those experiencing these types of problems should not have to live in discomfort and should be able to relieve their symptoms with confidence in what they are putting into their bodies.
Large studies conducted from the Million Women Study (2003) and the Women’s Health Initiative (2002) have shown a connection between oral estrogen and deep vein thrombosis, coronary heart disease, breast cancer, and stroke. Because of these findings, patients and providers are reluctant to use hormonal treatments to treat symptoms of GSM. So, where do women find relief without the worry of all the side effects?
Treatment options for GSM
Although there is no cure for GSM, there are natural options available for those experiencing these bothersome symptoms. If you have concerns that you are suffering from GSM, discuss with your doctor the following options:
Bladder Training and pelvic floor exercises which may help regain control of leaky bladders.
For those who are not concerned about the risk of estrogen cream there is a gel, tablet, suppository or a ring that can be inserted into the vagina which could possibly help with symptoms. Studies show that the risks are lower than taking an oral hormone replacement therapy. But there is still a small risk of estrogen related side effects.
All-natural products such as In the Pink from Hip Hemp have shown a great improvement in woman who have experienced GSM symptoms. This product helps to rejuvenate the tissue, moisturize and calm inflammation, and restore your vagina.
Find a natural lubrication to help relieve pain during intercourse caused from dryness. In the Pink’s organic Intimate Massage Oil are a plant-based oil lubrication designed for immediate relief.
It is important to talk about your symptoms and concerns with your doctor. Hot flashes can often stop once a woman is post-menopausal but genitourinary problems do not go away and are most likely to get worse with time. Women need to take care of their health and know there are options available for pain relief.