THE BLOG
09/03/2018 17:13 SAST | Updated 12/03/2018 09:05 SAST

Ageing South African Vaginas: A Study

The CLOSER study proves that atrophied vaginas are an emotional and sexual health hazard.

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At last a group of South African medical academics has looked at South African women's vaginas and published their findings in a prestigious journal, Climacteric (2017 Vol 20, NO.1, 49-54). More specifically, these academics – all highly respected gynaecologists – chose to study postmenopausal women's atrophied vaginas.

These are vaginas that burn, irritate, are dry because they lack lubrication, experience discomfort and pain with penetration, and are prone to urinary urgency, leaking and infections. This is directly due to reduced oestrogen levels in ageing women.

Uniquely, the study (called the CLOSER survey: Clarifying vaginal atrophy's impact On Sex and Relationships) is part of a global study, and included male partners of menopausal women. They wanted to know what the impact is of postmenopausal atrophy on South African women and their male partners.

Perhaps we talk less about atrophied vaginas and menopause because we're stuck in the misguided belief that older people are not sexual. Get over your ageism!

Considering that South Africa is a patriarchal society – one in which heterosexual "sex" means penetration, penis into a vagina, one round is for sissies, and tightness the desired designer vagina – one would imagine that there would be a lot of awareness of painful vaginas.

Alas, despite 50 percent of women having atrophied vaginas, 29 percent were uncomfortable raising the subject with their partners, 27 percent felt their partners would no longer be attracted to them if they discussed the topic, and 24 percent believed that this dialogue would ruin intimacy.

Let's have this dialogue right now.

I am of the strong opinion that painful sex must be averted at all costs.

As a man:

  • How well informed do you feel about menopause?
  • Are you aware of the impact of menopause on women's vaginas?
  • Do you take this into consideration when you are being sexual with an older woman?
  • Have you ever noticed that your woman is in pain during sexual penetration?
  • If so, what have you done about it?
  • Is sex less satisfying for you with an older woman due to her vagina either being too tight or too loose?
  • Do you find your libido is lower when in a relationship with a woman who has an atrophied vagina?
  • Do you avoid intimacy?

As a menopausal woman with an atrophied vagina (and unless treated, you do have one of these vaginas):

  • Do you avoid intimacy because of vaginal discomfort?
  • Have you told your partner about your atrophied/painful vagina? If not, why not?
  • Is sex less satisfying for you?
  • Is your libido lower as a direct result of the anticipatory pain, urinary infections or thrush that you know may follow penetration?
  • Has your atrophied vagina had a negative impact on your self-esteem?
  • Do you believe you have "lost your youth", which impacts negatively on your sexual desire and arousal?
  • Are you upset and feel that your body no longer "works"?
  • Do you feel you are no longer sexually attractive?
  • Have you lost your confidence in yourself as a lover?
  • Are you depressed thinking about your current sex life?
  • Do you feel lonely?

Results of the study showed that in 40 percent of women, symptoms of vaginal discomfort were untreated. As expected, black South African women fare less well than white SA women: 87 percent of white women have tried some form of treatment, compared to 54 percent of black women. Women used lubricating gels, creams mineral/vitamin supplements, hormone therapy, vaginal tablets or vaginal creams, and reported several benefits.

Personally I am never without Vagifem, a Vaginal tablet directly and easily inserted into the vagina. I'm not alone. The CLOSER respondents reported the many benefits of using vaginal oestrogen therapy, benefits to their sexual relationships.

These include:

  • Sex being less painful
  • Sex being more satisfying for my partner
  • Sex being more satisfying for me
  • Becoming closer and less isolated from each other
  • Looking forward to having sex
  • Improving our sex life
  • Feeling my partner is more attracted to me
  • Allowing us to have sex more often

Surely you want some of that? I am of the strong opinion that painful sex must be averted at all costs. The CLOSER study proves that atrophied vaginas are an emotional and sexual health hazard. They ruin relationships.

Perhaps we talk less about atrophied vaginas and menopause because we're stuck in the misguided belief that older people are not sexual. Get over your ageism!

Then pop into your local pharmacy where you can pick up your vaginal tablet, over the counter, knowing that it is safe and effective.

Prepare yourself for pounding pleasure!