According to data published last year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, 30 percent of women in their forties and 50 percent of women in their fifties say they hadn't had vaginal sexual intercourse in the previous year. And — surprisingly — such a dry spell could affect their health down there. “When estrogen levels drop after menopause, the tissues of the vagina tend to flatten and become thinner, which can cause painful sex, as well as itching, dryness, burning, and discomfort,” says Machelle Seibel, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. But having sex regularly can help prevent symptoms by keeping the vagina moisturized and improving elasticity. If you experience vaginal dryness during intercourse, a good lubricant can make things more comfortable. For women who aren’t sexually active, consider self-stimulation with a vibrator and non-hormonal vaginal moisturizers, like Replens, or vaginal estrogen creams, rings, or pills.
Last Updated: 05/06/2011