Doctor's Responses Archive

Viewer Question:

What are the expected changes to the appearance of the vaginal mucus during peri-menopause and information on fertility levels at that time.

Doctor's Response:

Vaginal mucus changes with the hormonal changes of menopause. Usually theses changes take some time to develop, because hormone levels do not just drop to very low levels abruptly. The changes are more gradual, and different women will experience them differently. While some women will be bothered, others will experience vaginal dryness, itching, or irritation with menopause changes, because estrogen is necessary for a healthy vaginal lining. These can also cause intercourse to be difficult. Decrease in itching, irritation, and dyspareunia (painful intercourse) can result from estrogen replacement, in a variety of vaginal or pill forms see MedicineNet.com's Hormone Replacement Therapy article). Vaginal mucus becomes less acid when estrogen levels decrease. It is felt that this decrease in acidity can predispose the woman to increased infections. Vaginal estrogen preparations have been shown to restore the acidity of vaginal mucus exactly back to the pre-menopausal levels.

Women are sometimes surprised to hear that they can become pregnant until they have been without menses for a year, even though they are having active menopause symptoms. There are special consideration for contraception for peri-menopausal women that should be discussed with a doctor.

Thank you for your question.

Medical Author: Carolyn Janet Crandall, M.D.
Medical Editor: William Shiel, MD, FACP, FACR
Last Editorial Review: 8/13/2002




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