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What medications can help treat painful sex after menopause?

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Prescription medications that may help include:

  • Low-dose vaginal estrogen
  • Vaginal DHEA, another hormone
  • Estrogen-like drugs
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

All drugs can have side effects. Talk to your doctor about what’s safe for you.

SOURCES:

Lauren Streicher, MD, clinical professor, department of obstetrics and gynecology, Northwestern University School of Medicine; founder and director, Northwestern Medicine Center for Menopause, Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Health.

Kathleen Green, MD, assistant professor, department of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Florida College of Medicine.

Alyssa Dweck, MD, gynecologist, CareMount Medical Group; medical consultant, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Laurie Mintz, PhD, sexuality psychologist; professor, department of psychology, University of Florida.

Ellen Barnard, MSW, certified sexuality educator; co-owner, A Woman’s Touch Sexuality Resource Center, Madison, WI.

Menopause: “The impact of genitourinary syndrome of menopause on well-being, functioning, and quality of life in postmenopausal women.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Improving Your Vulvovaginal Health.”

Breastcancer.org: “Vaginal Lubricants.”

International Journal of Women’s Health: “Current treatment options for postmenopausal vaginal atrophy.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Vaginal Atrophy: Management and Treatment.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Managing postmenopausal vaginal atrophy.”

UpToDate: “Patient education: Vaginal dryness (Beyond the Basics).”

The North American Menopause Society: “Yoga, Kegel Exercises, Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy,” “Weight Loss, Exercise, and Healthy Living.” 

Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy: “Sexual Functioning in Experienced Meditators,” “Development and Validation of a Measure of Responsive Sexual Desire.” 

Canadian Urological Association Journal: “A practical guide to female sexual dysfunction: An evidence-based review for physicians in Canada.”

American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: “Lifestyle Choices Can Augment Female Sexual Well-Being.

Mayo Clinic: “Mayo Clinic Q and A: Treatments for vaginal atrophy can prevent complications,” “Women’s Wellness: Painful sex after menopause.” 

Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery: “The Rationale for Photobiomodulation Therapy of Vaginal Tissue for Treatment of Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause: An Analysis of Its Mechanism of Action, and Current Clinical Outcomes.”

University of Wisconsin Health: “Sexual Health After a Cancer Diagnosis.”

Journal of Sexual Medicine: “Women's motivations for sex: exploring the diagnostic and statistical manual, fourth edition, text revision criteria for hypoactive sexual desire and female sexual arousal disorders.”

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson on January 30, 2020

SOURCES:

Lauren Streicher, MD, clinical professor, department of obstetrics and gynecology, Northwestern University School of Medicine; founder and director, Northwestern Medicine Center for Menopause, Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Health.

Kathleen Green, MD, assistant professor, department of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Florida College of Medicine.

Alyssa Dweck, MD, gynecologist, CareMount Medical Group; medical consultant, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Laurie Mintz, PhD, sexuality psychologist; professor, department of psychology, University of Florida.

Ellen Barnard, MSW, certified sexuality educator; co-owner, A Woman’s Touch Sexuality Resource Center, Madison, WI.

Menopause: “The impact of genitourinary syndrome of menopause on well-being, functioning, and quality of life in postmenopausal women.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Improving Your Vulvovaginal Health.”

Breastcancer.org: “Vaginal Lubricants.”

International Journal of Women’s Health: “Current treatment options for postmenopausal vaginal atrophy.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Vaginal Atrophy: Management and Treatment.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Managing postmenopausal vaginal atrophy.”

UpToDate: “Patient education: Vaginal dryness (Beyond the Basics).”

The North American Menopause Society: “Yoga, Kegel Exercises, Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy,” “Weight Loss, Exercise, and Healthy Living.” 

Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy: “Sexual Functioning in Experienced Meditators,” “Development and Validation of a Measure of Responsive Sexual Desire.” 

Canadian Urological Association Journal: “A practical guide to female sexual dysfunction: An evidence-based review for physicians in Canada.”

American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: “Lifestyle Choices Can Augment Female Sexual Well-Being.

Mayo Clinic: “Mayo Clinic Q and A: Treatments for vaginal atrophy can prevent complications,” “Women’s Wellness: Painful sex after menopause.” 

Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery: “The Rationale for Photobiomodulation Therapy of Vaginal Tissue for Treatment of Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause: An Analysis of Its Mechanism of Action, and Current Clinical Outcomes.”

University of Wisconsin Health: “Sexual Health After a Cancer Diagnosis.”

Journal of Sexual Medicine: “Women's motivations for sex: exploring the diagnostic and statistical manual, fourth edition, text revision criteria for hypoactive sexual desire and female sexual arousal disorders.”

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson on January 30, 2020

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