Garden Nectar

How to End Painful Sex and Dryness During and After Menopause

Menopause is inevitable. 

As women, when we reach the age of 40-50 years young, our periods stop and our reproductive hormone levels drop. This significant drop causes a variety of changes within our bodies, such as bone loss, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness. 

“Although menopause causes changes to your vulva, vagina, urethra, and bladder, potentially causing discomfort and distress, you may not feel comfortable talking about it. And worse, your healthcare provider may not ask you.

The symptoms associated with the changes of menopause in these parts of your body are collectively called the genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). The evidence suggests that up to 50% of menopausal women experience GSM, although this percentage is likely higher due to underreporting” (Chisholm, A., 2022).

Menopausal Changes

As previously mentioned, your vulva, vagina, urethra, and bladder (lower genitourinary tract) are effected by the hormone level changes associated with menopause. This drop in estrogen affects how your lower genital tract feels, looks, and functions. 

Your Vulva

“You have two separate labia or skin folds that function to protect the more delicate structures of your vulva. The outer labia majora is larger and contains fat cells or adipose tissue as well as hair follicles. It acts as a protective cushion for the more delicate structures of your vulva.4

The labia minora lies just inside the labia majora. It contains multiple glands that produce secretions that provide lubrication to protect the area from dryness and irritation.

In other words, your clitoris plays a vital role in your sexual functioning, or the stages of sexual desire, arousal, and orgasm. Your clitoris is protected by your labia and also an additional layer of skin known as the clitoral hood or prepuce.

Now let’s look at your menopausal vulva.

The drop in estrogen levels causes changes to your vulva. First, you lose the fat pad in your labia majora, causing a decrease in the volume or size of your labia.

Without adequate estrogen, there is also a thinning and shrinkage of the labia minora. Rarely, it may fuse to your labia majora. As the labia minora thins out, it also produces less protective secretions. In some women, the clitoral hood can also thin out, shrink, or even fuse together.

This loss of padding and lubrication exposes the more sensitive underlying structures like your clitoris and the opening of your vagina to chaffing, irritation, and trauma.

These changes often cause sex to be painful and can lead to a decreased interest in sex. Sometimes, changes can be so significant that it causes increased sensitivity and chronic clitoral pain not associated with sex” (Chisholm, A., 2022).

Your Vagina

“Like your vulva, menopause brings unpleasant changes to your vagina as well.

For starters, your vagina is lined with a special type of skin tissue that is composed of three layers. The topmost or superficial layer is very sensitive to estrogen. During your reproductive years, normal estrogen levels keep your vaginal lining thick and well lubricated.

This allows the vagina to resist trauma and promotes elasticity (i.e., the ability of the vagina to stretch and recover), which can be helpful in childbirth and sex.

The drop in estrogen can cause the walls of the vagina to become thin and dry (referred to as vaginal atrophy), losing their elasticity and lubrication, which may make sex painful. Vaginal atrophy can also lead to a narrowing of the vaginal opening. These changes may cause the vagina to tear easily from normal minor trauma like sex or a pelvic exam” (Chisholm, A., 2022).

Your Bladder

“There is some debate over whether the menopausal changes to your lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra) are hormone or age-related. But there is evidence to support that low estrogen levels do contribute to the urinary tract problems of menopause.

Your bladder and urethra (the tube that carries urine out of your bladder) are rich in estrogen receptors. Like your vulva and vagina, these tissues lose their volume and elasticity when your estrogen levels drop in menopause.

Your bladder may not expand like it used to, and you may find yourself needing to go to the bathroom more frequently. You also may notice that you dribble or drip urine occasionally just when you finish urinating.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can also be more common in menopause. The low estrogen levels create changes in the vagina that increase the concentration of UTI-causing bacteria. Also, the thinned-out lining of your urethra makes it easier for the bacteria to get into your bladder” (Chisholm, A., 2022).

Vaginal Dryness Treatments

“If you have mild symptoms of GSM or if you want to avoid using hormone therapy, you could consider using a vaginal lubricant or moisturizer. These products are available over the counter at your pharmacy, online, or in specialty stores.

Vaginal lubricants are the best choice if you are having pain with sex. Since your vagina does not self-lubricate as well as it did before menopause, using a vaginal lubricant will help decrease the friction, pain, and trauma that can be associated with sexual activity.

They work immediately. Their effect is short-acting and they may need to be reapplied as necessary. There are three types of vaginal lubricants:

  1.  Water-based: Water-based lubricants are safe to use with latex condoms and are non-staining. However, some water-based lubricants contain glycerin, which can be irritating and may increase your risk of yeast infections. If you choose a water-based lubricant, avoid those containing glycerin.


  2.  Silicone-based: Silicone-based lubricants are safe to use with latex condoms but they can stain fabric. They are longer acting than water-based lubricants and maintain their effectiveness in water.


  3.  Oil-based: Oil-based lubricants are not safe to use with latex condoms as they can cause the latex to break down, increasing the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections. You should not use petroleum jelly, baby oil, or regular body lotion products as a lubricant. These products contain potentially irritating and harmful chemicals shown to increase your risk of vaginal infections. However, you could try using a more natural oil like olive oil or coconut oil as a lubricant, especially if you are sensitive to additives or dyes.

Unlike vaginal lubricants, vaginal moisturizers are used to improve some of the symptoms of 

GSM not related to sex. These moisturizers work by trapping moisture in the tissues and providing longer relief of your symptoms” (Chisholm, A., 2022).


  • Contain secondary synthetic and toxic ingredients. such as methyl parabens and propylene glycol
  • Who wants to eat toxins? Tastes awful
  • Drys up fast and propylene glycol causes dehydration inside the vagina leading to more irritation
  • No healing ingredients and the chemicals can be irritating to vaginal tissue
  • Only purpose is for lubrication during sexual activity
  • Secondary ingredients are usually man-made synthetics
  • Most are tested in the vaginas of rabbits and the stomachs of mice housed in tiny lab cages



  • Toxic ingredients such as dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane
  • Who wants to eat toxins? Tastes like a hospital smells
  • Long lasting but often feels too slippery
  • No healing ingredients and the chemicals can be irritating to vaginal tissue
  • Only purpose is for lubrication during sexual activity
  • Man-made polymer which is also used to lubricate bicycle chains and hardware
  • Most are tested in the vaginas of rabbits and the stomachs of mice housed in tiny lab cages

Natural & Empowering Comfort with Garden Nectar

Garden Nectar is formulated with food grade, natural ingredients to help ease discomforts such as: vaginal dryness, atrophy, itching, burning, and painful sexual intercourse.

Garden Nectar can be applied topically and internally. It’s also 100% natural, gluten-free, hormone-free, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, and has no petrochemicals or synthetics.

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The following quoted information has been pulled from Verywell Health, was written by: Andrea Chisholm, MD and has been medically reviewed by: Monique Rainford, MD.

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