How Hormones Affect Vulvar Pain and Treatment Options
“During menopause, levels of oestrogen, an important hormone in women, naturally go down. As a result, the walls of the vagina tissue become thin, dry, & sometimes swollen & inflamed. In many women, this leads to symptoms of vaginal burning, irritation, & pain (especially during sex), bleeding and discharge” [1,2]
Did You Know?
“Women in their 50s and older who are going through perimenopause or menopause may experience symptoms as their levels of oestrogen fall, causing vaginal dryness that can lead to pain in the vulva” . – This means that countless millions of women suffer, and unless they take action, they are suffering needlessly.
So What Can I Do?
The first port of call, is to book an online or in-person appointment with a Vulva Specialist. Once they have reviewed your medical history, asked you pertinent questions, and conducted any necessary tests, they will give you an accurate diagnosis, and then put you on a Holistic Personalised Treatment Plan.
While these vary from patient to patient, common treatments include:
- Hormone therapy medication to manage menopause-related changes (this will be prescribed by your Vulva Consultant, who will carefully monitor your progress for optimum results)
“If lubricants & moisturizers are not enough, hormone treatment in the form of oestrogen, can be added. Oestrogen can be delivered either through the vagina (vaginal oestrogen) or via a pill or skin patch (systemic oestrogen). Vaginal oestrogen comes in different forms including cream, tablet, or a ring inserted into the vagina” 
- Topical oestrogen cream, which is often prescribed by a Vulva Doctor, as may be beneficial if a patient’s low oestrogen levels are generating their vulva pain. (The cream is gently rubbed into the affected area)
- Vaginal lubricants/moisturisers: generally speaking, lubricants are utilised to help with painful sexual intercourse. Conversely,moisturisers can be applied at any time in order to ameliorate feelings of dryness. (Of note: menopause and post-menopausal vaginal symptoms can be helped by having regular sexual activity, be it with or without a partner)
- Cold compresses or gel packs can help to relieve the pain [2,3].
. Galen, N. (2022). “What are the causes and treatments for vulvar pain?” Medical News Today.
. Jin J. Vaginal and Urinary Symptoms of Menopause. JAMA. 2017;317(13):1388
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2614191#:~:text=During menopause, levels of estrogen,), bleeding, or discharge.
. Kothary, D. (2022). “Vulvodynia: How to Recognize and Treat this Chronic Pain of the Vulva.”