Dryness During Menopause by Dr. Pamela Dee^

Dr. Pamela Dee, OB/GYN, is a paid spokesperson for Estroven®. The information provided herein is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as medical advice or to replace professional medical care. You should always seek the advice of a medical professional before starting any new medication or dietary supplement. The opinions stated herein are those solely of the writer and do not portray the opinions of the Estroven® brand, i- Health, Inc., or DSM.

Dr. Pamela Dee^ (Dr. Pam) is America’s leading menopause expert & OB/GYN, and she is on a mission to encourage honest dialogue about the physical and emotional symptoms that accompany menopause. Her goal is to de-stigmatize menopause and start the “Menopause Romance Revolution.” Her film, LOVE, SWEAT & TEARS, shares an empowering message of hope and action. Dr. Pam^ won’t rest until every woman knows the truth about menopause, that there is hope and that the third part of a woman’s life can be the best and most romantic.

Dryness during menopause can affect women in multiple ways. The most common dryness issues include drying of the skin, mouth, eyes and pelvic tissues.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is the most common condition of aging skin and is a result of decreased water, oil and lipids. Estrogen receptors are located throughout our skin, so it is understandable that with the loss of estrogen after menopause, the skin is affected. The decline in skin collagen after menopause is initially rapid, with up to 30% of skin collagen lost during the first five years after menopause.1 Increases in wrinkling and decreases in skin elasticity will also occur. The best way to take care of your skin is to stay out of the sun and stay well-hydrated.

Dry Eyes

A very common complaint associated with menopause is dry-eye syndrome. It is characterized by dryness, pressure, foreign-body sensation, scratchiness, burning and intolerance to light. Women with dry eyes can use eye lubricants such as drops, gels and ointments to provide a temporary decrease in symptoms, but these unfortunately will not cure the problem. Women can also speak to a healthcare provider to see if anti-inflammatory medications, topical corticosteroids or prescription Cyclosporin A may help.2

Vaginal Dryness

One of the most common and well-known symptoms of menopause is vaginal dryness. The lining of the vagina and urinary system relies on estrogen to keep the tissues thick, healthy and well-lubricated. Estrogen decreases result in vaginal dryness and itching which can lead to pain with intercourse. Early in menopause, the first sign of low estrogen levels may be a slight decrease in vaginal lubrication upon sexual arousal. Symptoms of dryness of the vaginal and urinary tract are progressive and worsen as a woman ages.3 With continued loss of estrogen, women may notice vaginal dryness during daily activities that are not associated with sexual activity such as sitting, biking or even walking. On examination, the vagina typically appears pale, with loss of the vaginal folds and a decrease in diameter and length. The opening of the vagina narrows, and a woman may lose pubic hair.4 For my patients, I recommend a daily vaginal moisturizer, vaginal estrogen or vaginal DHEA, and regular intercourse or physical therapy to increase vaginal blood flow and to help maintain the diameter and length of the vagina.

Dry Mouth

Postmenopausal women tend to have drier mouths which leads to an increased susceptibility to gum disease. It is clear that an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is important for bone health of the jaw and teeth. For each 1% per year decrease in whole-body bone mineral density, the risk for tooth loss more than quadruples, showing a definite relationship between low bone mineral density and gum disease.5 Women should floss and brush teeth daily with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, see their dentist regularly and maintain adequate vitamin D and calcium to prevent and treat osteoporosis-associated periodontal disease.6

^Dr. Pamela Dee is a paid spokeswoman for Estroven®.

1Menopause Guidebook: A Clinicians Guide. 5th Edition. North American Menopause Society 2014. p. 29-30
2Menopause Guidebook: A Clinicians Guide. 5th Edition. North American Menopause Society 2014. p. 35
3Casper, Robert F., Barbeiri, Robert L., Crowley, William F., Martin, Kathryn A., UpToDate. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of menopause.
4Menopause Guidebook: A Clinicians Guide. 5th Edition. North American Menopause Society 2014. p. 60
5Menopause Guidebook: A Clinicians Guide. 5th Edition. North American Menopause Society 2014. p. 37 and 38