Women usually go through natural menopause at around age 51. Natural menopause means that you do not have a menstrual cycle for at least 12 consecutive months or your cycles stop spontaneously. Chemical menopause occurs when you have undergone chemotherapy or have taken medications that temporarily or permanently stop your cycles. Likewise, prescribed medications, such as a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), can shut down the pituitary gland and ovaries, thereby creating a menopausal state. Surgical menopause is when both ovaries are removed during an operation such as a hysterectomy, so that hormones are markedly diminished.
Severe skin and pelvic changes often occur at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels, a critical hormone for women.
Changes in the Genital Tissues
During a woman’s lifetime— and especially during the menopausal transition— the vulvar and the vaginal area can change in texture. The menopausal period is typically accompanied with vaginal and vulvar irritation, dryness and other changes in the perianal area (located between the vaginal opening and the anus ). The vulva, vagina, and clitoris can become very dry, irritated, and even sore to touch as a result of falling estrogen levels. To prevent or minimize pain, itching, redness, or burning— and for overall health and comfort— one must take proper care of the vulva and surrounding area.
It is important to think of the vulvar area as an extension of your skin. Just as you respect and treat your face with care, choosing high quality facial products that nurture and preserve the integrity of your skin, so too should you cleanse and care for your vaginal area. If you are going through menopause, be aware that some of these vulvar and genital changes can be minimized and that small changes in perianal and vulvar hygiene can help preserve and prevent further damage to this already sensitive area.
–> Avoid tight clothing, which can cause discomfort, irritation and lead to other problems. Wear looser more breathable fabrics like cotton, including underwear. Instead of pantyhose, wear thigh-high or knee-high stockings. If you must wear pantyhose, try cutting out the center around the vaginal area. Choose loose-fitting pants or skirts, and remove wet bathing suits and exercise clothing promptly.
–> Clean your “intimate” clothes properly. Use only mild laundry cleaners, such as those that are specifically made for babies, to wash undergarments and underwear. Double rinse underwear and any other clothing that comes into contact with the vulva. Do not use scented or highly perfumed fabric softener.
–> Cleanse the vaginal area daily with a well-balanced natural oil cleanser. Harsh chemically based foamy detergent soaps may actually damage the delicate skin barrier. Lubrigyn Cleansing Lotion ® is a silky cream-based product that cleans gently “by affinity” without irritating your delicate skin. It is a hypoallergenic, natural pH balanced cleanser that contains elastin, hyaluronic acid and botanicals. In fact, it can be used as an all-over body cleaner. Lubrigyn Cleansing Lotion ® can be used with or without water and will safely clean the vaginal area— removing toxins, impurities and leaving your skin silky smooth, moisturized and refreshed.
Many over-the-counter foamy and bubbly soaps may further inflame and chafe the sensitive vulva and should be avoided. Natural, oil-based cleansers like Lubrigyn Cleansing Lotion ® is a smarter choice to help soothe and protect.
–> Use plain soft, white, unscented toilet paper. Gently pat the vulvar area dry with light pressure only. It is advisable not rub the area back and forth with pressure, as this can create a scratching irritation.
–> When taking a bath to relieve irritation… fill your tub with an inch or two of cool to tepid water. Add a small about of baking soda or several chamomile tea bags to the water (which may help decrease itching and irritation). Soak in the tub for several minutes and then pat the area dry and clean. Avoid perfumed bubble bath, feminine hygiene products, or any perfumed creams, sprays, or harsh bubbly soaps.
–> Use Lubrigyn Wipes® daily when you’re “on the go.” Currently wipes come with your purchase of Lubrigyn Lotion®.
–> Change your tampons or menstrual pads frequently if you are still having your menstrual cycles. Also make sure they are 100% cotton and unscented.
–> Exercise smart. Limit strenuous exercises that can put excessive direct pressure on the vulvar tissues. That may include prolonged spinning, bicycle riding and long sessions of horseback riding. Consider using a frozen gel pack wrapped in a towel to relieve symptoms after excessive exercise. Sweat can irritate the vulva so it’s important to shower after sweaty sports, yoga or strenuous activities. Also be sure to shower immediately after swimming in a chlorinated pool, as it may contain chemicals that aggravate your genital tissues. In fact, consider limiting the time you spend swimming in highly chlorinated pools and avoid excessive soaking in hot tubs or very hot baths. Finally, try mixing in some light exercises such as yoga, tai chi and other relaxation techniques that do not stress the pelvic area.
–> Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water and fluids that will keep your urine diluted and less likely to sting or irritate the vulvar area.
–> For long periods of sitting consider using a foam rubber donut. If you must sit all day at work, try to intersperse periods of standing and exercise.
Keeping your vaginal area healthy, silky smooth and revitalized is easy as long as you follow some practical suggestions, including choosing a natural daily cleanser that will nourish and moisturize as it delicately cleans.