Just like the rest of your body, your vagina ages. Once you get close to menopause, its parts don’t look or function the same as they did when you were younger. Dryness, drooping, shrinking, and a lack of lubrication are all issues at this stage of life. You may also get more UTIs. Your vagina is home to lots of bacteria – some good, some bad. The loss of oestrogen around menopause changes the environment, leaving more bad bacteria than good.
These changes are natural, although sadly, not often discussed, meaning we can be left uninformed and woefully unprepared for the realities of our ageing vaginas. No longer! Watch the highly informative discussion between me and Jane Barrett to discover exactly how your vagina transforms and adjusts to maturing, as well as tips on keeping it healthy, free from infections, and active.
Jane is a nutritional therapist, who specialises in digestive and gut health, but has also added the urinary system to her range of interests, in particular UTIs and trying to get to the bottom of recurring UTIs, using the new vaginal microbiome test (something she talks more about in the video) to pick up pathogenic bacteria in the vagina that may be continuously migrating to the bladder and causing not just UTIs, but an increased risk of miscarriage and issues with fertility.
You can learn more about Jane here.
Some of topics we discuss in the video include:
- What makes for a healthy vagina?
- The effects that menopause and ageing have on the vagina, the urinary system, and the bladder
- How vaginal dysbiosis can increase the risk of miscarriage, infertility, thrush and BV
- What women can do to reduce their risk of getting a UTI – through diet, lifestyle, supplements, pessaries, ways of supporting the immune system to make it more resilient and better able to fight infections
- How sexual intercourse can become painful when peri- and menopausal, and ways women can reduce this pain and enjoy sex
- What are conventional treatments for UTIs?
- What are natural treatments to reduce the risk of recurring UTIs?
- Why it’s important to take probiotics to help prevent UTIs?
- Is there any such thing as an ‘embedded UTI’ and how is it different to a standard UTI?
- The vaginal microbiome test – what is it, and what can it tell you?
- What can women do to reduce their risk of getting a UTI?
Jane advocates non-hormonal vaginal support before considering HRT for peri- and menopausal women, suggesting that dietary and lifestyle options are tried before considering medication.
Difficulty enjoying sex can become an issue for women during menopause; Jane recommends:
- ·Vaginal moisturisers to moisturise the dry, cracked walls of the vagina. They can be used as needed but are best when used daily to maintain the vaginal environment. She recommends brands such as Yes and Into the Wyld. Hyalofemme is also a choice if the vaginal mucosa is severely inflamed, as this contains hyaluronic acid – available on prescription or buy privately online.
- Vaginal lubricants work differently. These are used during sex to replace the lack of natural vaginal secretions and can help to make sex less painful. The brand Yes also do a lubricant.
As mentioned in the video, I cannot stress the importance of taking a female-specific probiotic enough when it comes to keeping the vagina healthy. My For Women probiotic capsules help to replenish naturally occurring vaginal bacteria and balance out the infection-causing bad bacteria with good bacteria. This can reduce the frequency and risk of an uncomfortable UTI flare-up, as well as reducing the risk of vaginal yeast infections, urogenital infections, and bacterial vaginosis by keeping the vaginal microbiome in balance. Probiotics can also help modulate the immune system, making a person’s resilience to infections, including UTIs, stronger.
We hope you find the video informative. If you have any questions about a vaginal, urinary, or bladder issue, please get in touch.