Hot flashes, night sweats, shifts in moods... women suffering from menopause are well aware of the symptoms. But one of the more embarrassing symptoms is vaginal dryness.
"Just like when women first get their periods, menopause is a big life change," said Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine. "The lack of estrogen in the body decreases blood flow to the pelvic region. As a result, this can cause vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy, or a weakening of the muscle tone in the pelvic area that can lead to sexual dysfunction and painful sex."
Vaginal dryness is a common complaint for women during and after menopause. To treat the irritating and embarrassing problem, doctors usually prescribe topical estrogen creams and gels that can be applied to the vagina for lubrication. But Dr. Minkin has a different, non-hormonal and slightly unconventional solution: vibrators.
Here, Dr. Minkin explains the benefits of using a vibrator to treat vaginal dryness.
How can a vibrator help with this common menopause symptom?
Vibrators improve reproductive and pelvic health help by stimulating pelvic blood flow, which increases vaginal moisture and boosts sexual response, all of which making sex (with or with a partner) more enjoyable. Like any muscle, the vagina is best kept healthy with regular exercise -- it’s the “use it, or lose it” mentality. Deterioration is particularly common as more middle-age or older women find themselves in situations where they aren't sexually active (single, divorced, widowed or aren't having regular sex with partners).
Therapeutically, frequent vibrator use can prevent and ward off conditions such as painful vaginal dryness and atrophy. Within a month, women should notice a difference (even past menopause).
Can you walk us through how you diagnose your patients?
I always talk to my patients about her sex life -- with or without a partner -- during exams. Let’s say I have a post-menopausal patient who is experiencing a lot of vaginal dryness and is not sexually active. I’ll recommend she try the We-Vibe (pictured above) along with lubricant or with estrogen, if she’s comfortable. During the follow up visit, I’ve noticed patients will frequently tell me they don’t need the estrogen as much because increased activity via [a vibrator] provides more moisture. While vibrators can be used with or without estrogen, we work to find the best combination to keep women healthy and happy.
How have women you've treated responded to this treatment?
It’s been a very positive response so far. At least half of women I speak with are comfortable using vibrators. Of course I always work within a patient’s comfort zone, but my main goal as their doctor is to provide a variety of treatment options. The reality is, vibrators are a great, no-side effect solution to an issue that millions of women suffer from. My goal is to educate women that vibrators aren't something to be embarrassed about -- not only are they fun, but they also help women stay comfortable and happy during this sometimes uncomfortable stage in life.
How often do you recommend women use a vibrator for treatment?
I recommend my patients use a vibrator three to four times a week, but as Mae West said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!” Also, I suggest patients use lubricants along with the vibrator since the body-safe product is made of medical-grade silicone.