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For this patient, a vaginal pessary was the perfect solution to all the sex-related problems brought on by the menopause. After three months, her day-to-day vaginal symptoms had gone.
Kim* was a 56-year-old teacher when she came to see Clare. She went through the menopause three years previously when her periods had stopped. She was getting occasional hot flushes, but she felt that she could cope with these without any additional support.
Her main issue now was painful sex. It’s a common symptom experienced by postmenopausal women that can be caused by dryness of the vaginal lining. Kim noticed that she had experienced some day-to-day discomfort and irritation in the vagina and vulva over the last year, which she had self-treated for thrush. Thrush treatment hadn’t really worked for her though.
She also started to notice that she frequently felt as if she had a bladder infection with pain and burning, but when her GP took urine samples to test, they all came back negative. It was all very frustrating for Kim.
Water-based vaginal lubrication helped at first, but sexual intercourse became more uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Kim started to avoid having sex and felt her sex drive plummet. Her husband was supportive, but she felt sad and upset that their sex life was being affected.
This was when Kim decided to book a consultation with Dr Clare Spencer, Co-Founder of My Menopause Centre.
When Clare met with Kim, they discussed many different options to help with painful intercourse, including a daily vaginal moisturiser and oil-based lubrication.
The likely cause of symptoms was the effect of the loss of oestrogen in the vulval and vaginal tissues, making them more delicate and sensitive and also losing their stretch and elasticity.
Clare talked to Kim about vaginal oestrogen treatments that can come in a gel, cream, tiny pessary with an applicator, larger waxier pessary, or vaginal ring fitted by a doctor.
Kim decided to try Vagifem 10mcg pessaries, using one every night for two weeks and then one twice weekly. Clare told her it might take up to three months to see the improvements.
Clare spoke to Kim again after three months – and the news was great. All of her day-to-day vaginal symptoms had gone. Sex was no longer uncomfortable, and it was much more pleasurable, meaning that Kim wanted to have sex again. She also noticed an improvement in her bladder symptoms.
Kim continued to use Vagifem for another six months until she decided to stop as she felt so much better.
Kim knows My Menopause Centre is here if and when her symptoms start to creep back.
It was such a relief to be able to talk about my symptoms. I’d put up with them for such a long time as I was too embarrassed to talk to anyone about them, even my GP. My relationship with my husband is now so much better – I love enjoying sex with him again.
Perhaps your story is like Kim’s, or maybe it’s completely different. The important thing to remember is that everyone experiences the menopause in their own way, with different symptoms. If you’re unsure about the signs, you can read about the menopause symptoms, take our Menopause Questionnaire or book a consultation with one of the doctors in our menopause clinic.
*While Kim herself is fictional, her story reflects the experience of many women in the menopause transition.
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