Cher, Kim Carnes and Emmy Lou Harris all recorded the 1961 Roy Orbison song "Love Hurts," lamenting the pain of a broken heart. But that was years ago, and by now they, and 50 million other postmenopausal women in the U.S., may be dealing with the physical realities that accompany the great hormone shift - including love that hurts.
More than 70 percent of women 60-69 years old who have a steady partner report having sex a few times a month or more. But 25 percent to 40 percent report painful intercourse. That's because a lack of estrogen causes vaginal atrophy, or thinning of the tissue. Estrogen is needed to keep membranes and skin supple and strong. So here are some tips to ease that discomfort.
Stay physically active. Regular exercise can relieve menopausal symptoms (hot flashes), improve overall health (a big plus for feeling sexy) and keep pelvic muscles toned (that keeps orgasms strong).
Eat foods that promote strong, healthy skin. Pomegranate and sunflower seeds, guava, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, olive oil and walnuts boost collagen. Adding 900 IU of algal-oil DHA omega-3 daily is a great move.
Try safe estrogen-based therapies: Topical creams, vaginal tablets and the estrogen ring deliver relief, and the hormone isn't (much) absorbed into the bloodstream. Make sure to ask your doc about taking two baby aspirins daily if you're trying ANY estrogen therapy.
Also, ask your doc about risks and benefits of a new medication: ospemifene, a SERM (selective estrogen receptor modulator) that relieves painful intercourse by enhancing estrogen activity in some tissues.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.