“Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time,
effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end.[1]
~ Germaine De Stael

You sneeze. This sneeze took you completely by surprise. You did not plan to sneeze, so you are not prepared. You have worn no protection, and now you need a change of clothing.

You know the feeling. Once you realize that you cannot keep from sneezing, you tighten the muscles, the Kegel muscles to be exact, but the inevitable still happens, and you are left recovering from what may be a disaster, depending on your location.

Many women experience embarrassing moments like the one described above. They happen occasionally and maybe even frequently. If you are a woman and have had this happen to you, consider that this experience, technically known as urinary incontinence, might be only one of several symptoms related to something very important to you and your partner – your sexual intimacy. This little inconvenience, and associated symptoms, may even affect your quality of life, your self-image, and your relationship with your partner.[2]

Vaginal atrophy happens to all women as they age. Atrophy is the term related to symptoms of the aging vagina and is defined as a wasting away or diminution.[3] In perimenopause, the period before women completely stop their monthly cycles, some women may begin noticing symptoms of atrophy. In menopause, when women’s bodies no longer release eggs and they stop having monthly cycles, the signs can be more pronounced. Symptoms women may experience can include vaginal dryness, vaginal burning, spotting after intercourse, pain during intercourse, pain or burning with urination, more frequent urinary tract infections, and urinary incontinence or involuntary leaking, as in the opening scenario.[4]

What causes these symptoms? As women age, levels of estrogen decline, which leads to the thinning of the tissues and a decline in or lack of moisture inside the vagina, the narrowing of the vaginal opening, the thinning of the lining of the bladder, and the thinning of the external skin of the female genitals, including the labia, the clitoris, and the entrance to the vagina.[5][6]

The important thing to remember is that having sexual relations with your partner is very important, not only because of the relationship it enhances between you, but also because it improves blood flow and lubrication of the vagina, in addition to keeping the opening of the vagina from narrowing. Active sexual relations can be one of several factors that slow atrophy, keeping you younger, longer.

Can you achieve timeless love? Discuss your particular situation with your doctor. 


[1] “Love Quotes.” Ageless Love. 2018. http://www.agelesslove.com/boards/chit-chat/7880-love-quotes.html. (6 July 2018).

[2] Laura Curio, MD. “A for Atrophy.” Women’s Health, 16 May 2011. https://blogs.webmd.com/womens-health/2011/05/a-for-atrophy.html. (5 July 2018).

[3] “Medical Definition of Atrophy.” 13 May 2016. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=2389. (5 July 2018).

[4] Sandy Calhoun Rice, medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, COI. “Postmenopausal Atrophic Vaginitis.” Healthline. 22 Jun 2017. https://www.healthline.com/health/atrophic-vaginitis. (5 July 2018).

[5] Curio.

[6] “Medical Definition of Vulva.” 13 May 2016. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6009. (5 July 2018).