Cathy shares how oestrogen cream offered relief for vulval pain…
My body changed so rapidly as I went through menopause, at times I didn’t recognise it as my own”
Once my periods stopped four years ago, I initially experienced immense relief. I’d suffered for many years with severe period pain and heavy periods, making it hard to plan outings or holidays and I was reliant on strong painkillers every month.
But there were also plenty of challenges. My body changed so rapidly as I went through menopause, at times I didn’t recognise it as my own.
The symptoms I’m experiencing now are down to low oestrogen. For me that means forgetfulness, I have to write everything down or it doesn’t get done, collagen loss from the skin, so I’m gaining wrinkles faster than I thought possible, and also vulvodynia, which makes sitting down uncomfortable.
My libido seems to have left the room!”
I’d also love to know where my libido has gone. On a scientific level, I understand how falling hormone levels can steal sex drive, but my libido seems to have left the room and thrown away the key! I do feel like I’m missing a piece of the jigsaw puzzle of menopause and hope I can find it in the future.
Vulvodynia left me isolated
The condition came on very quickly and really impacted my wellbeing”
Pain in the vulva, known as vulvodynia, can occur with or without vaginal dryness. It was only through research I discovered how widespread vulvodynia is. Thousands of women, both menopausal and premenopausal, suffer from sometimes agonising pain yet it’s barely ever talked about and rarely taken seriously by the medical profession.
The condition came on very quickly and really impacted my wellbeing, making me feel very helpless and alone. As I work as a freelance writer it has made life hard. Due to my condition, I can no longer wear jeans or ride a bike. This does make me sad sometimes, but I haven’t suffered seriously from the hot flushes, mood swings or sleeping problems a lot of women have to cope with, so I count myself lucky.
I use an oestrogen cream a couple of times a week, which has helped me to a certain extent, and I switched to natural bath and shower products. I’ve also found online support groups very useful, making me realise I wasn’t the only woman suffering from this condition.
Exploring ways to relax
Menopause brings many changes to your body and different needs compared to when you were younger be they nutrients, sleep or stress reduction techniques.
A recent convert to yoga and meditation”
I’m qualified in nutrition so I like to research scientific studies myself to decide which approaches might be worthwhile, but even though I can access the nutritional knowledge, it’s often hard to be objective and apply this information to myself.
I’m a recent convert to yoga and meditation and I’ve found these to be great for reducing anxiety, which I found myself suffering from at the start of the pandemic. Yoga, meditation and learning how to breathe properly have taught me how to relax.
This review goes into the various types and causes of vulvodynia, revealing that this type of discomfort has been documented as far back as ancient Egyptian texts. There are also helpful tables on the different types of treatments, from pharmaceutical to behavioural changes. As always, make sure to talk to your doctor first!