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vaginal dryness

Menopause and the Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

How do you want to spend those long nights in bed: watching endless Netflix or ruffling the sheets? For a lot of women, the biggest hill to climb when it comes to hitting middle age is menopause. While for some, the word menopause has negative connotations—aging, brittle bones, loss of sexual desire—the truth of matter is that menopause can actually be a good thing, especially when it comes to sex!

As you go through menopause, you’ll notice a few things—hot flashes and night sweats aside—namely, your libido will slowly wean. This is due to decreased hormone levels. The transition will leave you feeling at a loss in your partnership, mainly because your desire to engage in sexual activity is no longer what it used to be. This might cause friction in your relationship because it’ll might make you feel unfulfilled in the intimacy department.

The physical effects of falling estrogen levels undermines sexual motivation for many reasons, but one main, and painful reason, is vaginal dryness. Although the lack of lubrication is not directly related to menopause, the age-related decrease in testosterone can have an impact on a woman’s desire to get physical because the idea of potential pain is what lingers in her future. If it doesn’t feel good, then you’ll obviously opt to abstain.

That’s when a quick O-Shot therapy or diVa Laser Vaginal Renewal treatment is well worth the investment: sex in your post-menopause can be more fun than you imagined! (think: no more worries about getting pregnant, no more kids at home interrupting the fun, and you’re finally primed and know exactly what you like!)

Proper hormone management can set things straight and get you right back into the game. No more menses to make a mess of things… you’re a treatment away from remembering how great sex can be without that painful sensation of chaffing skin rubbing you to a jolting halt. Whether it’s lubricants or a non-invasive procedure, Elna Sexual Wellness can help walk you through your options and open up a whole new world of post-menopausal sex!

Call or email today for more information.

 

Lori.

Intercourse Shouldn’t be Painful

Although the typical female response to sexual arousal is for the vagina to produce a liquid that moistens the area, it should not be taken for granted that our bodies always do what we want them to do. When sufficient lubrication is not produced, often times, in an intimate situation, despite her state of arousal, a woman will suffer from painful intercourse (also known as dyspareunia) due to insufficient lubrication. Dyspareunia is defined as painful sexual intercourse persistent or recurrent genital pain before, during, or after intercourse.

There are a few reasons why a woman might suffer from dyspareunia. Physiologically speaking, the body naturally lubricates the vaginal area. However, decrease in estrogen, the reproductive hormone, often leads to the decrease in lubrication of the vagina. As estrogen dwindles, as it does with childbirth, breastfeeding, menopause or due to certain medical conditions/treatments, the vagina feels the effects. Dryness, laxity, and other symptoms can result in pain during or after penetration, as well as a burning, throbbing, and an itching sensation.Pleasurable sex is not a natural law that comes with the territory. Many women have to work hard for it. In fact, over 40% of women have reported that they suffer from (or have suffered from) painful intercourse. That’s 40% too many! Pain during sex is not, and should not be just par for the course. There are treatments out there to help women, physically and psychologically overcome the pain and distress that sexual intercourse is causing. Some of the options out there include: diVa Laser Treatment, the O-Shot, pelvic floor therapy, and counselling. Most often, the recommendation pairs two (or more) therapies together for optimal results.

Because the cause of dyspareunia is varied and the degree of pain falls on a spectrum (some women feel pain from inserting a tampon, while others can begin to have sexual intercourse only to run dry within a few minutes), the treatments we offer are best prescribed case-by-case.

Let’s look at diVa laser therapy and consider some of the benefits:

  • Increased lubrication and sensation during intercourse
  • Tightened vaginal canal
  • Enhances ability to reach orgasm
  • Improved control over urinary incontinence
  • Significant improvement in confidence and quality of life

Does sexual intercourse hurt? Do you feel like your body is failing you? Is it taking a toll on your overall emotional and sexual health? If you answered yes to any one of these questions, it’s time to pick up the phone or start typing that email. Yes, talking about sex can be difficult, but leave it to us professionals to make sure you feel comfortable so we can sort out whatever issue you may have… contact us and you’ll be one step closer to a healthier (and more pleasurable) sex life!

Lori.

What is Anorgasmia?

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Reaching orgasm might seem like a logical conclusion to sexual activity. However, it shouldn’t be taken for granted that an orgasm just happens. For some, waiting for that orgasm to happen feels like an impossible dream. Whether it’s lifelong, acquired or situational, if you are experiencing difficulty reaching an orgasm, your sex life can feel compromised.

More common than one might think, anorgasmia—the medical term for difficulty reaching orgasm—affects about 10-15% of women. It could feel quite frustrating if you are experiencing this sexual dysfunction, but the truth is there are a wide array of treatments available. Despair not, once you’ve seen a doctor and the cause has been established, you can be well on your way to reaching a (hopefully, mind-blowing) orgasm.

Symptoms of anorgasmia range from long delays to complete incapacity in reaching climax. If you take the time to sit back and think about what is required in order to achieve orgasm, it is actually a more challenging task than one might believe. A combination of sexual arousal, complete relaxation, ease and comfort with yourself or your partner, as well as a few other psychological or emotional factors all work in tandem to bring you to that climactic moment of your sexual activity. It is not just some stroke of luck that your body can take you to that euphoric state… it’s actually hard work for some women (and men)! It’s important to not feel ashamed or stigmatized about your body, and for most, releasing that negativity is the first step toward letting go and feeling comfortable having your body take the lead.

Maintaining your overall sexual wellness is a vital part in overcoming anorgasmia. First and foremost, getting to the root of the issue is a fundamental step that you and your doctor will work on together so as to properly assess the situation and treat it accordingly. For some, the correlation is straightforward, as anorgasmia can be linked to physical, emotional, and psychological factors, like the ones listed below:

Physical factors can include:

  • Illness (diabetes, for example)
  • Aging (low estrogen levels, loss of natural lubrication in the vagina)
  • Medical treatments (such as hysterectomy, oophorectomy, or cancer surgeries)
  • Other sexual dysfunctions (vaginal dryness, dyspareunia)
  • Alcohol abuse

Emotional / Relationship factors can include:

  • Poor communication
  • Relationship conflicts, resentment toward partner
  • Lack of connection with partner
  • Domestic violence or abuse

Psychological factors can include:

  • Stress
  • Past sexual, physical, emotional abuse
  • Negative self-image, embarrassment
  • Cultural/ religious beliefs related to sexuality
  • Mental health conditions (such as depression and anxiety)

The medical field has made great strides in coming up with effective treatments for anorgasmia. From prescription medicine to sex therapy, the range is wide and the options varied. Two treatments that we practice at Elna Sexual Wellness, the O-Shot and diVa Laser Therapy, encourage a more optimized sexual experience by stimulating tissue regeneration around the clitoral and vaginal areas, as well as provide more lubrication to the genital area, which can in turn reduce painful intercourse. Whether it’s a conversation with a counsellor or a non-invasive shot, sometimes, restoring sexual performance just requires that you to take the first step… calling your doctor. Yes, it can be that easy.

Lori

What’s the O-Shot All About?

It’s been around for a while, but more and more women are finally catching on to the major benefits of, drumroll please… the O-Shot. Ground-breaking in its field, the O-Shot provides everything from easier arousal and increased lubrication to much needed relief from urinary incontinence.

It was only a matter of time until science and technology caught up to the sexual revolution. It took a few decades, but the O-Shot is here to stay. Taking a look at a woman’s relationship with sex, the O-Shot responds to many of the common problems women face and seeks to restore sexual function so women can enjoy sexual activity (pain-free!).

 

How does it work?

The O-Shot, also called the “orgasm shot,” delivers regeneration cells that immediately revitalize muscle, tissue and nerves. To alleviate female sexual dysfunction (and increase bladder control), the O-Shot begins with a simple blood extraction consisting of PRP (platelet-rich plasma), which is then injected back into the vaginal area, to increase blood flow, reawaken or stimulate sexual function. A natural solution and highly effective treatment, the O-Shot has multiple benefits, including:

  • Increased sexual desire
  • Improved or resolved urinary incontinence
  • Increased vaginal sensitivity and pleasure
  • Increased natural lubrication
  • Decreased pain during intercourse
  • Increased ability to have a vaginal orgasm

There are a number of ways to treat weakened muscles (like the ones that support the bladder), for example, Kegel exercises (pelvic floor physical therapy), bladder training, and surgery. But another simple, and non-invasive technique used widely is the O-Shot.

If you suffer from urinary incontinence or are experiencing any form of sexual discomfort or dysfunction, consider discussing your options with Elna Sexual Wellness. At the very least, you’ll learn something new!

 

Lori

Estrogen and the Cycle – Part 2

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All month long, a woman’s body produces estrogen. If you have a “normal” menstrual cycle, then you will see fluctuations in the amount of estrogen produced, with a high during ovulation, and a low when you have your period. But, there are many other factors that play a role in a woman’s increased or decreased production of estrogen.

Estrogen is mainly produced in the ovaries (small amounts are also produced in the adrenal glands and fat tissue). Estrogen then moves through your blood and acts everywhere in your body helping with growth, maintenance, and repair of reproductive tissue, as well as influencing other body tissues and bone mass (think osteoporosis).

As a woman’s body naturally has highs and lows of estrogen levels, you might notice anything from mood or behavioural changes, oil secretions (acne), to fluctuations in sex drive. Although it is natural to see peaks and dips in estrogen throughout the cycle, let’s look at what it might feel like if your estrogen levels dip lower than your monthly usual.

Fluctuations in Estrogen: A Dip

Why would your estrogen levels fall? This question is often asked, and although there is no one certain reason, here are a few possibilities:

  • Hypogonadism
  • Hypopituitarism
  • Pregnancy failure (due to estriol)
  • Perimenopause and menopause (due to estradiol)
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Anorexia nervosa (eating disorder)
  • Extreme exercise or excessive training
  • Temporal and temporary cause: immediately after childbirth and during breastfeeding

Some of the symptoms of low estrogen levels include:

  • painful sex due to a lack of vaginal lubrication
  • an increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to a thinning of the urethra
  • irregular or absent periods
  • mood swings
  • hot flashes
  • breast tenderness
  • headaches or accentuation of pre-existing migraines
  • depression

Taken in stride, any one of these symptoms might be something you feel every now and again, but if these symptoms persist, then perhaps you suffer from low estrogen levels. A simple blood or urine test from your doctor could clarify the situation, and treatment can begin.

Fluctuations in Estrogen: A Rise

Puberty brings on a normal rise in estrogen levels. That’s because estrogen is a “chemical messenger” that helps your body develop from girl to woman. Playing a role in breast development, a more mature curved figure, and hair growth. In terms of adolescent surges in estrogen, the hormone is doing its job. But if you are already a woman (hormonally speaking), then excess estrogen (called estrogen dominance) might contribute to weight gain (or women who are extremely overweight), fibroids (non-cancerous tumors) in the ovaries, loss of sex drive, depression, and fatigue.

Estrogen and Sex

So let’s get down to the business of Sexual Wellness: Reduced estrogen levels can cause shrinkage of the vaginal mucosa. This shrinkage results in the narrowing of the vaginal opening, which is a condition called vaginal atrophy. Commonly, if the opening is narrowed, a woman might experience pain during sexual intercourse. Estrogen plays an integral role in maintaining a healthy sex life, and when it comes to staying lubricated, there are topical creams that can help. However, there are a number of other ways to treat vaginal dryness. The standard treatment today consists of applying vaginal creams or suppositories containing Estrogen. This can be very effective but the regular application of the medication can be messy and cumbersome. 

Here are two other treatments you might want to look into if you’re experiencing an underproduction of natural lubrication:

  1. Vaginal Laser Therapy (diVa) involves a renewal treatment with diVa Laser. It’s an effective solution to vaginal dryness or laxity. The laser painlessly stimulates the thickening of the mucosal layer, restoring a more youthful tone. diVa works both internally and externally to tighten skin, and restore function and appearance.
  2. The O-Shot PRP injection stimulates vaginal and clitoral tissue rejuvenation for a better overall sexual and urinary wellness. Although still a new therapy under evaluation, the early results of PRP therapy are encouraging with minimal side effects. And for many women, the results are almost immediate.

By restoring vaginal health we often see a return in libido, orgasm more easily achieved and vaginal lubrication increased, putting an end to painful intercourse.

Estrogen affects your physical, mental, and emotional health. Impacting everything from your stress levels to sex drive. It’s important that if you feel any symptoms related to a rise or fall in estrogen that you seek medical assistance; professional help may help alleviate any underlying causes. There is no reason you should feel out of sorts, we can help.

 

Dr. Steinberg

Estrogen: A 3-Part Series

Estrogen is a natural hormone produced by the body, and although it is most commonly associated with women, estrogen occurs in men as well. There are a few vital contributions that estrogen has to the healthy development of our bodies, especially when it comes to puberty and reproduction. But, there are times when our bodies may produce too much or too little estrogen; when that happens, shifts occur and a number of symptoms may arise. In this 3-part series, we will go through what estrogen is, the various under- and over-production effects of estrogen in women, and lastly, we’ll take a peek into how estrogen plays a role in a man’s overall health. In this article, you’ll get a simple overview of what estrogen’s role is in our bodies.

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The first thing you need to know about estrogen is that it is produced naturally in the body with fluctuating highs and lows throughout a woman’s cycle. The highest is in the middle of the menstrual cycle and the lowest during your period. As we stop ovulating, estrogen levels drop, this explains the connection between low levels of estrogen and menopause.

Known as the sex hormone, estrogen contributes to a variety of functions:

  • turns a girl into a “woman” through puberty – growth of breasts and pubic hair, and start of menstrual cycles
  • important to childbearing
  • keeps cholesterol in control
  • protects bone health (for example, osteoporosis)
  • affects your brain (mood), heart (decreased estrogen can bring on increased inflammation), skin (dry), and other tissue (vaginal walls)

Estrogen is just one of the hormones that plays a role in the normal sexual and reproductive development in women. Women with low levels of estrogen who are experiencing difficulty getting pregnant, might be put on hormone therapy which will introduce extra estrogen to the body to help simulate the hormone cycle. For women who are trying to ward off pregnancy, birth control acts as a bio-identical hormone supplement to maintain levels of estrogen (and progesterone); without a surge in estrogen, your ovaries will not release an egg.

The effects of increased or decreased estrogen levels in the body extend beyond whether our reproductive organs can successfully do their jobs or not. As our sex hormones are not solely made to reproduce, one of estrogen’s other functions is to keep the walls of the vagina lubricated with clear fluid and the lining healthy, thick, and elastic. By maintaining healthy levels of lubrication, the vagina welcomes penetration (i.e. sexual intercourse) without distress or pain. Should the levels of estrogen dip, this can impact the amount of moisture available, making sexual intercourse less enjoyable due to dryness.

Vaginal dryness is a treatable symptom of reduced estrogen levels. Also known as vaginal atrophy or GSM (Genitourinary Symptoms of Menopause), this condition can lead to distressing urinary symptoms. Vaginal estrogen cream has been the only therapy available up to recently. But now, through Vaginal laser Therapy (diVa) or the O-Shot PRP Therapy, we can restore function and appearance of the vagina both internally and externally. Your sexual desire will often return and vaginal lubrication will increase, helping you maintain healthy vaginal function and allowing sexual intercourse to be more pleasurable.

Estrogen plays a vital role in a woman’s development. As we saw, estrogen helps with the reproductive aspect of being a woman (puberty, menstrual cycles, childbearing), but it also helps with a woman’s overall health from affecting mood and behaviour to producing natural lubrication in the vagina.

There is so much to learn about estrogen, in our next blog, we’ll talk more in depth about what happens when your body produces too little or too much estrogen. We’ll take a look vaginal dryness as well as all of the treatments available.

It’s important to know your body and understand what is going on beneath the surface. It may seem like you don’t have control over the what your body naturally does on its own, but you do – and by paying close attention to your behaviour and general health, you can play an active role in tending to your happiness and overall well-being.

 

Dr. Steinberg