“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” ? Maya Angelou
This is a subject that will be too much information (TMI) for some. I’m talking about vaginal dryness due to menopause, anti-estrogen therapy used against breast cancer, and the side affects of chemotherapy. If this is not a topic you’re interested in, read no further. However, if you are plagued by symptoms of dryness, you may find some of this helpful.
Because I have been through all three conditions above, I can’t say whether just dealing with one has as many issues with vaginal dryness or not. I just know that I have spoken with cancer survivors and menopausal women who suffer from this condition. The worst problem is often painful sex.
Here’s the deal, I spent a year and a half after my cancer treatments having little interest in sex. I don’t know if that was created emotionally because I was more concerned about living or if the drugs and menopause caused my libido to shrink. I suppose it was a combination of both. Finally when I was interested again, sex hurt. Lubrication didn’t help. Not only was it painful but it simply wouldn’t work. There was essentially “no room at the inn.”
Because my breast cancer was estrogen positive, using hormone therapy was out of the question. However, my oncologist did allow me to try the Estring. It is a ring that is inserted and last for three months. My oncologist suggested it because it works to relieve symptoms in and around the vagina rather than affecting the whole system like a systemic would. Not all oncologists will agree. The quality of life issue became very important. Unfortunately, I had little relief. I worked with my gynecologist as well making sure I had no other issues like infections or incorrect ph balance and using lubricants without estrogen. Through many tears of frustration and fear that I might never have sex again, she finally suggested vaginal dilators. I immediately ordered them and began the process of undoing the atrophy. Atrophy essentially means the vaginal walls become thin, fragile and dry. The tissues lose elasticity often causing bleeding and inflammation. Had I known, I would have spent a lot less money on those lotions for my aging face and spent the time and effort taking care of my happy place. A few lines around my eyes is nothing compared to the screaming pain of a non-working vagina. I told you this might be too much information!
So on to the good news, the “little white men” as I refer to the dilators, worked. They are basically white plastic dildos with a handle. In a period of about six weeks I had graduated to the largest little man. Remember, I had been trying to fix this for at least three years. A month and a half seemed like a blessing in comparison. There you have it. I won’t write the Shades of Grey version here. Suffice it to say, my tears are gone and the “Oh sweet mystery of life at last I found you” has returned. You have to be a fan of Young Frankenstein to enjoy that reference.