How do Hormones Affect Sexual Pain?

Painful sex happens from time to time for many women. It may not become an issue, though, until it happens frequently. A common symptom of menopause, sexual pain can stem from physical changes resulting from a hormone imbalance.

There may also be other factors at work. If discomfort or pain is interfering with your enjoyment of sex, consult with the experts at Southeast Urogyn. They can diagnose the problem and suggest courses of treatment that are right for you. 

Causes of painful sex

Though estrogen is present in both women and men, it’s the dominant sex hormone in women. Much of its production takes place in the ovaries, so as ovarian activity slows and stops, causing perimenopause and menopause, the changes that accompany these dropping levels can start to become noticeable.

Vaginal atrophy

While the menopause experience is quite variable, many women experience vaginal atrophy, in which changes occur to vaginal tissue. Changes can include thinning of the vulva and vaginal lining. Furthermore, there may be less natural lubrication with arousal. And this can lead to increased friction during contact, which can lead to increased irritation, discomfort, and even burning pain.

A descending cycle

As you experience discomfort or pain, you may begin to anticipate these sensations, which could result in the involuntary contraction of vaginal muscles in a condition called vaginismus. When this cycle starts, it may be difficult to recover without treatment, such as hormone replacement therapy. 

Pain perception

Research suggests that fluctuating hormone levels can change the way your body perceives pain. In short, this means you may feel discomfort and pain more severely when estrogen is at low levels than when it’s at peak levels.

Treating sexual pain

The right solution for you depends on the symptoms you’re experiencing and their severity. Conservative treatments include the use of sexual lubricants to minimize the problems caused by vaginal atrophy, but this doesn’t treat the underlying cause of hormonal deficiency.

When pain during sex is an issue, taking supplemental estrogen — through pills, patches, creams, gels, or injections — may help restore vaginal health. And if you have hot flashes or other symptoms of menopause, taking supplemental estrogen may help in those areas, too.

The specialists at Southeast Urogyn may also recommend direct treatment of the vaginal walls to help trigger natural healing in the vaginal region. The MonaLisa Touch® and CO2RE® Intima systems harness the power of laser light to stimulate new collagen growth in the vaginal lining. As new collagen is generated, this can help renew the health and function of the vaginal tissue. 

If you experience painful sex, the health professionals at Southeast Urogyn can help restore your vitality. To learn more, book an appointment over the phone today.

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