Ask the experts
I heard that sexual intercourse becomes painful after menopause. Is this true? How can I prevent this from happening?
Just as the symptoms of menopause vary among women, the extent to which individual women experience these symptoms also varies. Because menopause is associated with decreased levels of estrogen, the lining of the vagina may become drier and thinner, often leading to burning, itching, or discomfort during sexual intercourse.
While you can't prevent the changes from occurring, your doctor can help you find ways to manage the symptoms. Hormone therapy is the most reliable treatment for menopausal symptoms, particularly for vaginal discomfort. Depending on your personal and family medical history, your doctor may prescribe estrogen (in the lowest effective dose) to help manage your symptoms, including vaginal dryness or discomfort. Estrogen tablets, rings, and creams are also available for local application of estrogen to the vagina. Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers and lubricants can also provide relief from discomfort associated with intercourse.
Medically reviewed by Wayne S. Blocker, MD; Board Certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology
"Patient information: Menopause (Beyond the Basics)"
Rossouw JE; Anderson GL; Prentice RL et al. Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: principal results From the Women's Health Initiative randomized controlled trial. JA
Utian WH; Archer DF; Bachmann GA, et al. Estrogen and progestogen use in postmenopausal women: July 2008 position statement of The North American Menopause Society. Menopause. 2008 Jul-Aug;15(4 Pt 1):584-602.
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