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A Guide To Vaginal Dryness by Senior Menopause Nurse, Kathy Abernethy

This guide was originally featured on Sylk.

This guide, developed in conjunction with specialist nurse Kathy Abernethy, aims to help you give our readers, practical guidance and information. Sylk receives many patient enquiries on the topic of vaginal dryness and the menopause as outlined below. Kathy Abernethy advises our patients on ways of reducing symptoms and tackling the many issues associated with the problem.

About Kathy Abernethy, MClinSci RN

Kathy Abernethy

Kathy Abernethy is a specialist nurse with over 20 years’ experience in the field of women’s health. Kathy is an independent prescriber with a Master’s degree in Community Gynaecology and Reproductive healthcare. She is Chair of the UK Menopause Nurse Group and Medical Advisory Member of the British Menopause Society and Director of ‘the menopause course’ – an educational initiative for nurses. She has published a number of articles and papers on the menopause both in the lay and specialist nursing press.

For more information please visit www.kathyabernethy.com If you’d like to ask Kathy a question, get in touch through our Menopause page.

To Buy Kathy’s new Menopause book, click here.

Common Questions

I no longer suffer from hot flushes, just dryness – Barbara, 57 years

I have suffered with lack of libido for the last 5 years or so. I have recently married a man seven years younger than me and I am starting to feel very miserable about our sex life. We do make love but I have come to dread it as I don’t experience the same sexual urge and desire that I used to. I do not want to take any medication and wondered whether there was anything herbal that would help? I have no other menopausal symptoms apart from vaginal dryness. Hot flushes ceased about four years ago. Can you help?

Even a smear test is painful – Gillian, Age 54 years

I am post-menopausal and have atrophic vaginitis. Even a smear test is painful nowadays. My doctor has prescribed a hormone cream which I have been using for almost a year but to no effect. My question is, would sylk be suitable to use on a daily basis to rehydrate my vaginal tissue, rather than use the hormone cream which has made no difference?

Gone off sex during the menopause – Jan, 55 years

I am concerned as I have gone off sex completely since two years ago, I am going through the menopause and have had a mirena coil fitted four years ago. I live with my partner, but he is feeling rejected because I don’t want sex, when we do, I get very sore. This situation is having an affect on our relationship, can you suggest anything?

Can I use Sylk after breast cancer treatment? – T, 62 years

I’ve recently had breast cancer. The lump has been removed and I’ve finished my course of radiotherapy. However, coming off the HRT and starting on Arimidex has left me with little or no oestrogen levels and for the first time in my life, I think I need a lubricant. Is Sylk okay to use when taking Arimidex?

I’m only 30, am I dry naturally? – Louise, 30 years

I regularly suffer from vaginal dryness which leads to discomfort during sex. I feel extremely happy with my fiancée, yet for some reason, even when we really take our time, I still have this issue. I really can’t work out why, as I am only 30 years of age. Might I just be naturally this way and should rely on products like Sylk or should I seek medical help? I am not on any medication nor have I ever been on the pill (we use condoms) and I have a regular monthly cycle.

Sex is painful because of dryness? – M, 35 years

I find it difficult to enjoy sex as my vagina is always dry, making intercourse very painful. I am really worried as this is affecting my love life, please can you advise me on what I can do to help this problem?

After a hysterectomy my libido is nil… – Margaret, 58 years

I had a hysterectomy when I was 47. Up until then I had a very healthy sex life, but since then my libido is nil, and I have no desire for sex. My main reason is that it is too painful and I’m embarrassed to go to a doctor about this problem. I still desire my husband and this is causing a rift between us as we have had sex maybe three times in the last year and not dull sex as its too uncomfortable. Please help.

How to treat vaginal dryness – what Kathy says

The lubrication glands in our cervix control natural lubrication and when this process is upset, through hormonal changes or when you experience stress and anxiety, vaginal dryness can be an unwelcome side effect. The itchiness and irritation are often confused with cystitis and thrush, but medications for these conditions will not help the dryness and can in fact make the situation worse.

Perimenopause and menopause

Many women first notice vaginal dryness when making love. It can make penetration painful and uncomfortable and if left untreated, can have a significant impact on relationships and self-confidence. Some women are aware that they may experience vaginal dryness during the perimenopause or menopause. However, there are other times when women can suffer from vaginal dryness which tend to be less known and not really talked about.

Other common causes of vaginal dryness

  • When starting a hormone based contraception
  • Using tampons for the first time
  • During pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Some drugs for cancer treatment can also cause this condition

Sylk says: “The vaginal area is very delicate but very tough – delicate enough to be easily irritated by harsh chemicals yet tough enough to withstand the rigours of childbirth. Sylk is a plant based moisturiser made from extract from the kiwi vine designed specifically with your vagina in mind. The pH of the vagina is slightly acidic which is hostile to nasty bacteria.

If this balance is upset, infections can take hold. Sylk’s unique female-friendly formula works in harmony with your body to hydrate and soothe. It contains no hormones, parabens or other nasty chemicals, so it is safe to use as often as you need to – even daily. Because it is natural, you are able to use Sylk with internal or external hormone based contraceptives, HRT, when pregnant and breastfeeding and when making love. It is also perfect whenever that little bit of extra comfort is required such as around period time when tampon use can cause discomfort.”

This guide was originally featured on Sylk.