Painful Intercourse: What to do When Lubricant Isn’t Enough

Your vagina is normally a moist place. As a self-cleaning organ, the inner walls secrete fluid to maintain healthy conditions inside. And when you’re sexually aroused, glands near the entrance of the vagina respond and add a natural lubricant that eases penetration and helps to make intercourse the pleasurable experience it should be.

Sometimes, though, your body’s lubrication system can falter. This is often the case as you approach and enter menopause. Fluctuating levels of estrogen eventually drop off dramatically, and the normal functions of your vagina become altered. Consequently, vaginal moisture can decrease.

The doctors at Southeast Urogyn in Jackson, Mississippi, often recommend using sexual lubricants when vaginal dryness results in painful intercourse. For many women, that’s all that’s needed for pain-free sex. For other women, however, this isn’t enough. 

The basics of vaginal atrophy

Vaginal atrophy — a condition in which there is thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls — is a common side effect of menopause. It’s a primary cause of painful intercourse, and it may also create problems with your urinary tract, such as stress or urinary incontinence, frequent urinary tract infections, or burning during urination.

When it comes to sex, though, vaginal atrophy can cause more than just painful intercourse. You may experience burning sensations as well as pain, and you may notice unusual discharges. Light bleeding, likely from damage to the vaginal walls, could follow sexual activity. Furthermore, your vaginal canal could become tighter and shorter along with the increased dryness. 

Treating vaginal atrophy

While sexual lubricants are often sufficient to ease symptoms, sometimes they’re not enough. Collagen loss is often a contributor to vaginal atrophy. The good news is there are a variety of treatments that can trigger collagen production, which, in turn, can help increase moisture production and elasticity of the vaginal walls. Southeast Urogyn specializes in nonsurgical treatments of these vaginal issues.

Lasers and radio waves

Your body retains the ability to regenerate collagen, but it doesn’t start the process until it detects damage. That’s where laser light energy and radiofrequency energy come in.

Both laser light energy and radiofrequency energy have the ability to penetrate the outer layers of the vaginal walls to gently warm the collagen layers beneath the surface. This energy selectively warms the collagen layer to the point where your body starts to flush and replace collagen, and all you feel is a gentle warming.

Once the process is triggered, new collagen can develop and help restore the vaginal walls to a younger state. This, in turn, can lead to greater volumes of natural moisture, a reduction in symptoms, and a return to pain-free intercourse. Southeast Urogyn offers MonaLisa Touch®, CO2RE Intima®, and ThermiVa® treatments to their patients. 

Platelet-rich plasma therapy

Your blood contains platelets, which help with tissue healing and regeneration. Injecting a concentrated dose of platelets into an area can therefore help speed up this process.

This is done by first withdrawing a sample of your blood. Then this sample is put into a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the rest of your blood's components. This concentrated platelet plasma is then injected in and around the vagina to give the area the healing resources it needs. One popular platelet-rich plasma treatment that deals with this is called the O-Shot®.

You don’t have to tolerate painful intercourse. To learn more about your treatment options, book an appointment over the phone with Southeast Urogyn today.

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