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Do We Need to Use Lubrication When We’re Over 40? 

Oct 18, 2019

This week I was chatting to a female novelist who's in the process of writing a novel about women over 40. It’s going to be quite saucy by the sounds of it!

We got onto the topic of sex and how we only seem to hear stories of women who have lost their libido, that are struggling with dryness and have given up on connecting with another human being that way.

We never get to hear about those women who are thriving post-menopause and enjoying intermittency unashamedly.

Yet there’s absolutely no reason why your sex drive has to decline, why you have to feel dryer ‘down there’ or why sex has to feel more uncomfortable once you hit 40.

Learn how to support your body naturally and you can continue to enjoy your sex life for many years to come.

Today I’d like to explain a bit more about what’s going on in your body once you hit the perimenopause, explain what can make any problems worse and give you some quick solutions that can help.

What is the connection between oestrogen and vaginal lubrication?

Oestrogen is one of the main female sex hormones which gives us our physical female characteristics, helps regulate our menstrual cycles and tells our bodies to release an egg every month (when we’re still ovulating).

But this is not all that oestrogen can do.

It also plays an important role in supporting the health of various other parts of our body. It helps protects our hearts, protects our bone density, keeps our brains nourished with blood and most importantly, nourishes and lubricates our tissues.

That’s why women’s risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and other health problems tend to increase after the menopause, and it’s also why some women can find that their vagina feels drier, they find it more difficult to become aroused and intercourse can become more uncomfortable.

Having said that, getting older and going through ‘the change’ doesn’t mean that sex will necessarily become less enjoyable or even uncomfortable.

We can take steps to support our body’s natural lubrication, allow our natural oestrogen levels to rebalance and help our hormones to rebalance naturally.

Lifestyle factors that can affect your vaginal lubrication

Whilst genetics plays a role in how your oestrogen levels change, at what rate, and how oestrogen withdrawal affects your body, there are also other lifestyle factors that can have a huge impact on how much lubrication you have and whether sex is as enjoyable as it should be.

Here are some of the main lifestyle factors that can have a negative effect, plus a few tips on how you can overcome your hormonal struggles and feel great again.

1. Smoking

One of the side effects of smoking is that it reduces your oestrogen levels. This can lead to early menopause, worsen your perimenopause and menopause symptoms, and contribute to vaginal dryness.

What to do

  1. Do your best to quit smoking or reduce the number of cigarettes you’re smoking.
  2. Ask at your GP’s surgery for details of local stop smoking clinics.
  3. Reach out to a hypnotherapist (like me!) for additional help quitting smoking.

2. Over-exercising

Whilst we've been told by the health and wellness experts for decades that we need to exercise hard to lose weight and be healthy, over-exercising is a whole different story.

It’s also far more complex for women than for men.

You see, when these experts conducted their research, they used men as their test subjects because it was simpler. There wouldn’t be any of those ups and downs of hormones that might influence their results and they’d have more of a straightforward study. It makes perfect sense from a scientific standpoint.

But this means everything we know about exercise is based on what benefits a male body and not what benefits a female body. WOW! What the f***? As a personal trainer, I find this information mindblowing.

You see, exercise works differently for us women. It affects us in a different way.

If we exercise too much, it can actually have a negative impact on our health, increase our stress levels and cause issues with our hormones.

So be mindful when you are doing those spin classes, boot camps and taking part in extreme sports.

What to do

  1. Before exercising, ask yourself, ‘Is this right for me at this time in life? If it is, how will I take care of my hormones in the process?’

  2. Read the book ‘Roar’ by Stacey Sims for more information about exercise and the effect it has on women’s bodies.

3. Poor gut health

If your gut isn’t as healthy as it could be, your oestrogen levels are likely to suffer too. According to a recent study, this doesn’t only mean that your vagina may be less lubricated as a secondary effect but that lubrication and the health of your vagina tissues will be directly affected by your gut health.

What to do

  1. Get a plant-rich diet high in the foods which feed the healthy bacteria in our guts. This includes fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and miso.

  2. Listen to this podcast episode with Dr Tom O’Bryan: Understanding Gut Health, Autoimmunity and Gluten

4. The contractive pill

The contraceptive pill works by binding up your natural oestrogen and progesterone and replacing it with an artificial type that isn’t the same as our natural hormones.

When it does this, it disrupts the natural balance of your hormones, put you at an increased risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies and also damage your gut health.

For many, the side effects are worth it. However, it shouldn’t be taken without careful consideration, particularly in the long term.

What to do

  1. Stop taking the pill if you can.

  2. Consider alternative forms of contraception. Ask your doctor for advice if required and make sure you find out about the effects that these alternative forms can have on your hormones.

5. Not eating enough

If you have or have ever suffered from an eating disorder, your intake of those nourishing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fats, proteins and other phytonutrients is likely to be much less.

This can lead to nutritional deficiencies, malnourishment and can affect your entire body, including your hormone balance. The act of depriving your body of food also adds to your stress burden which, in itself, can have a huge effect on your oestrogen levels.

What to do

  1. Fill your diet with an abundance of healthy, plant-based foods to ensure you’re getting the nutrition your body needs.

  2. Reach out and ask for help if you’re suffering from an eating disorder.

6. Long term stress

When you’re under stress, it can feel overwhelming, irritating and even frustrating. But that’s not the only reason why we want to avoid it as much as possible.

Stress, especially the chronic kind, can have a significant impact upon your overall health, your oestrogen levels and therefore your vaginal lubrication.

Your body’s natural repair systems don’t work as effectively, ageing increases, your digestion can go haywire and your cardiovascular health can suffer too. Your sleep starts suffering, your eating habits change and your relationships can also start to suffer.

Of course, a certain amount of stress is a healthy thing and can stimulate our minds, add a touch of excitement and help drive us towards positive things.

But when it gets too much or happens for too long, that’s when we need to do something about it.

What to do

  1. Read my blog post ‘7 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Stress Levels and Rebalance Your Hormones’.

  2. Consider how you could reduce stress in your life.

  3. Treat yourself to a day off, a mini-break or a relaxing retreat with the girls.

As mentioned, there’s no reason in the world why sex needs to become any less fulfilling once you hit the menopausal years. Take care of your body and you can stay feeling wonderful and not need to use lubrication (unless you choose to) for many years to come.

If you’d like to know more about supporting your body so you can look and feel at your best, follow me on Facebook or Instagram, or contact me for help?

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