Dear much, much younger self.
This is your 50-something self talking and I have some things I’d like to tell you about your intimate health, that intricate system of working parts that is capable of creating life and joy and wonder.
When you’re young, with your biological clock ticking regularly and loudly, and with your fertility at its peak, it’s easy to think that you will stay like this for ever.
Time stretches ahead of you like the horizon over a blue sea on a bright sunny day – never ending, full of hope and possibilities.
I’m here to gently remind you that there is a final destination to your journey.
I am now approaching the menopause – a time of reassessment and great change – the kind of hormonally charge experience you went through at puberty and which your daughter is about to experience.
I have to confess I am a little sad at this juncture because it means no more babies and I can see the creeping changes on my body – a little less collagen, a lot more grey hair.
But, like many strong positive women, I need to allow myself a momentary pause to bid my younger self farewell before I do what we women do – shoulders back, deep breath, head up, smile and FORWARDS!
And, in all honesty, nothing much else has changed. I still need to keep caring for my body and taking care of my intimate health and hygiene, just as I always have.
Talking of which, here are a few things I’ve learned over the years that you would do well to remember.
Nobody knows your body like you do.
Not doctors, not gynaecologists, not consultants. If you feel something is wrong, get it checked out.
The female body is still a mystery to many in the medical profession.
Painful as that is to write in the 21st century, you will find that doctors will generally diagnose any discomfort ‘down there’ as being Thrush or Bacterial Vaginosis.
Vulvodynia, Vaginitis, Bartholin’s Cysts, Pudendal Neuralgia, you may come across all this things whilst consulting Doctor Google and you will find many women on internet forums who experience these things and who remain misdiagnosed for years.
Again, I say you have to take charge of your intimate health.
You need to treat your vagina with respect.
It does not need to be scrubbed and perfumed, just gently cleansed. Use a gentle wash such as Vagisil ProHydrate Intimate Wash (£5 for 250ml) especially designed for the unique needs of intimate skin, gynaecologist tested and gentle enough for daily use.
The Vagisil ProHydrate range was developed after 5 years of research and clinical testing and has been specifically designed to relieve intimate dryness.
The range includes Vagisil ProHydrate Internal Hydrating Gel, Vagisil ProHydrate External Hydrating Gel and Vagisil ProHydrate Intimate Wash and is available from leading supermarkets and chemists nationwide.
It’s important to feel comfortable, confident and enjoy intimacy when you want to and 9 out of 10 women would recommend Vagisil ProHydrate to others suffering from intimate dryness.
Cotton underwear is kindest!
Most of the sexy underwear you see is made of man-made fibres which don’t allow the area to breathe. This can lead to irritations such as cystitis and thrush – not sexy! Cotton underwear or at least panties with a cotton gusset are the way to go most of the time. As you get older, you’ll definitely come to appreciate comfort more!
As your body changes towards menopause, there are some positives though:-
No more contraception
You can give up using contraception if you have not had a period for around two years if you are under the age of 50 and for around one year if you are over 50.
But be careful. Some contraceptive pills stop the mid cycle bleed (it’s not a real period you know) making it well nigh impossible to work out what’s going on. See your GP and ask for a blood test but be prepared that you may have to come off the pill to work out if you are menopausal.
Having said that, STIs have risen in the older generation by over a third in the last decade so it makes sense to at least keep using a condom if you are not in a steady relationship.
No more accidental pregnancy
Need I say more? No more worrying about accidental pregnancy or rushing to the chemist for the morning after pill. Whilst you’re in the tricky “has my menopause started” phase you might still find yourself buying pregnancy tests though!
No more period pain
Feminax tablets and a hot water bottle saw me through most months but oh, that aching, dragging feeling, not to mention the PMS symptoms.
No more stocking up on sanitary protection
It doesn’t matter how many you buy, at some point you will find yourself without one just when you need it. Or, you’ll get your purse out at the checkout at the supermarket and a brightly wrapped towel will plop onto the conveyor belt.
The truth is there are positives and negatives in every stage of your life and it is good to talk to other women and share your experiences and concerns. There is no need to be shy.
Time passes in the blink of an eye and if there is one message that I would want you to take with you is that it’s your life and your body – make sure you enjoy both.
*This is a collaborative post with Vagisil.