Joylux welcomes guest blogger Marisa Zocco of Elephant Journal! A University of Southern California-educated journalist and creative writer, she holds a firm belief in the power of the written word to connect individuals and inspire a healthy exchange of differing ideas—the bigger the difference the better.
Sometimes I feel like I’m maybe dying.
I mean, we all are dying, slowly. That’s the truth. But a few years back, it started to feel like that process was accelerating—like it was a whole new level.
My hair started thinning. My body ached in places and ways it never had before. I was suddenly had less sensation during sex and actually needed lube. The list of things that felt off seemed to go on and on.
Something is wrong, I told my doctors. I’m only 36. My body shouldn’t feel this way.
I’m still in the midst of figuring it out, but the other day when in conversation with some of the ladies over at Joylux, I found an unexpected source of comfort.
Joylux is a femtech company that helps menopausal women by offering therapeutic devices, tools, and care products that address menopause-related health concerns. So, when one of the gals said that their practicing OB, Dr. Sarah de la Torre, finds that unknowingly menopausal women often come in asking, “Do I have cancer or something? What’s going on?” I felt pretty damn seen.
So, gather round, friends—regardless of your age or phase in life. There are some things you need to know if you want to keep your V healthy and happy as you age.
Let’s demystify the health issues that miff our maturing vajayjays.
If we’re walking into doctors’ offices thinking we have cancer and are dying when we’re “around that age” that the transition toward menopause can begin, that sheds a pretty glaring light onto the fact that we women are tremendously undereducated about our bodies.
That makes sense when you look at the fact that, well, our doctors are, too.
One survey of medical residencies found that most programs devoted maybe one or two hours of their education to menopause (1). As a result, only about 7 percent of doctors feel adequately prepared to diagnose and treat menopausal women (2). And if our health experts aren’t talking about it with us, we can’t talk about it with each other.
This black hole of information, as Joylux’s Heather Dazell describes it, leads to women relying on things like online quizzes to alert them to the transition that might be going on within their bodies. Quizzes, not medical doctors. Sigh.
We feel like if we’re not having hot flashes or fewer periods, we’re not looking at menopause. But that’s not necessarily true. In my case, Joylux’s quiz, created by Dr. Sarah, told me I could be perimenopausal.
That was a bit of a surprise. But it might not have been had I been aware of the fact that there are 34 symptoms of menopause (3) that we can experience at any of the mid to later phases of our ever-transitioning hormonal existences—many of them most women are unaware of.
That’s what Joylux is here for: to facilitate discussion and get helpful products into the hands of those of us who might need them.
You’ve probably heard of stereotypical menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and irregular periods. But what about the symptoms that mimic PMS, like tender breasts, mood changes, and headaches? I’m guessing probably not.
Even a couple of my alarming “something’s wrong with me” symptoms are on the list: itchiness, joint pain, and thinning hair.
There are bunches of lesser-known signs beyond the über obvious that our feminine woes are not exactly, “just aging.” But perhaps some of the most devastating are the ones that directly affect the star of the female show—our vaginas.
Superficially, our gals are directly related to sex and that is often said to be pretty closely bound to our relationship quality. But going deeper, if we’re in a struggle with our sexy bits, we’re probably feeling less than stellar in our femininity, and that can really affect our overall quality of life.
So, let’s talk about these 4 Lesser-Known Vaginal Symptoms of Menopause (& Perimenopause) that we should all know.
1. Vaginal dryness
In my early 30s, I started to notice I wasn’t getting as wet down there. I thought it was just arousal I was struggling with, but after several years of a continuing and increasing vaginal dry spell with more than one person, it became clear to me that things were just flat-out changing.
What’s going on:
Estrogen stimulates our body’s collagen and natural oil production, which keeps our skin moist and taut. As estrogen levels decline during the three stages of menopause, our skin may become especially dry, itchy, and less plump. The same goes for our vulva and vagina (4). Can we get a big thumbs down?
A red-light “facial” for your vagina. Yes, seriously.
Sports medicine uses red light technology as healing therapy, and clinical aestheticians use it as an anti-aging treatment that reduces inflammation and heals tissue.
Joylux’s founder, Colette Courtion, took her experience in medical aesthetics and, alongside other medical professionals, decided to bring that same healing and rejuvenating red light technology to where the sun don’t shine with her vFit Gold device.
Six high-powered, UV-free stimulating red lights (LEDs) produce a positive, natural body response that improves internal vaginal tissue health (read the science-y details here).
Not gonna lie, when I first turned on the device and lit it up, I might have exclaimed to my partner that I was the proud new owner of a therapeutic adult Lite-Brite.
I share that not to dumb the device down, but more to emphasize the approach I’ve taken to using the vFit Gold. It’s like adult “play-time” without the sexual emphasis—though the accompanying toning vibration (more on that in a sec) can at times be a bit, er, inspiring.
Pair that with the company’s amplifying Photonic Gel infused with hyaluronic acid and aloe and you’ve got yourself some serious yoni pampering right at your fingertips.
2. Loss of libido & pain during intercourse
Painful vaginal intercourse is a lot more common than we think. As many as 75 percent of us will experience it at some point in our lifetime (5). I first experienced it after a several-month break from having sex. And I was surprised as hell.
I chalked it up to the long delay and my body not being used to that sort of interaction anymore. But I also noticed other things like the above-mentioned vaginal dryness, and over time, I realized that I just had an overall lower interest in getting it on—however deeply I fell in love with my partner.
What’s going on:
It’s that pesky estrogen again. Since it helps maintain the thin layer of fluid as well as the thickness of and blood flow to the vaginal wall, as our estrogen decreases, we can experience vaginal dryness (4). This change increases tissue fragility and can lead to tearing, bleeding, and pain during vaginal sex (6).
The trickle-down effect is not wanting to have sex—at all. I mean, it’s a rare person who gets turned on thinking about vaginal tearing and bleeding. But the longer we avoid sex, the higher the likelihood we are to experience some pain when we return to a healthy sex life.
Pack some heat between your legs
Gentle heat warms our tender tissue and encourages blood flow, which aids in natural lubrication to help soothe dryness. Joylux’s vFit Gold pairs gentle thermal energy with its red light therapy to boost tissue healing and maintenance. With improved vaginal hydration comes improved sensation, sexual function, and most importantly, comfort and confidence.
And I can attest that this works. The pre-selected sessions slowly ramp up the warmth for a building sensation, and while I was at first skeptical and thought that snake oil might work a bit better to get the juices flowing, I will eat some humble pie and say that I was proven wrong. More often than not, this has me reaching for the bath tissue when my 6-minute beginner sessions have ended, and I feel back to my old 20-something self—for hours. Trust me: it delivers real results (check out these pretty sonic images).
There are certain days when I’m just a drier girl down there (usually right after my period), and that’s when I least want sex.
On those days, I’ve recently made it a habit to use Joylux’s revitalizHER, which is a daily moisturizing serum made from soothing ingredients that support healthy, supple vaginal skin. And when I say supple, I mean supple. A little goes a long way, and it’s a miracle worker.
Combine vFit’s heat and some revitalizHER in the mornings, and by the evening, I just might be thirsting for some lube-supported lovin’.
3. Loss of Vaginal Sensation
Lovely, right? This could be the culprit of those lackluster orgasms. You know the ones—they sputter like a dud of a sparkler, spitting out a mere .2 seconds of wow, but then it just…stops. There’s a full stick of magic left, but it’s somehow mysteriously unable to catch despite all the right ingredients seemingly being there.
Sounds like I know what I’m talking about, huh? Hell yeah, I do. And it’s frustrating as all get out to experience.
What’s going on:
The pelvic floor can weaken during perimenopause due to hormonal changes and loss of natural muscle mass. This can lead to a lack of sensation during sexual intimacy (4).
Add a little sonic massage to your down-there self-care.
Sonic vibration aids in muscle and tissue stimulation, which can help to increase bloodflow and overall sensitivity over time. The vFit Gold has 6 vibrational modes to customize your experience.
But this isn’t at all like a vibrator. I’m not usually one to really appreciate internal vibration, but there’s something about the rumble of the vFit Gold that really stimulates—and not in a sexual way (well, at least not necessarily.)
It’s subtle but powerful and seems to increase with the heat as my pre-programmed, app-operated sessions go along. At the end of each session, I feel a little more awake down there—more bloodflow, more aliveness. Kinda how we might feel after a brisk walk first thing in the morning. Hel-lo sunshine!
Unpopular opinion: I like my smell. Yes, that smell. Her smell. Or, at least I used to.
Right around the time that all the other things started to shift, so did my lady scent. And man, was I bummed. I didn’t recognize myself, and this was one of those things that started me feeling like something was really wrong with me.
I’ve dealt with my share of infections and this didn’t quite seem like that, but there was definitely something…off from the usual.
What’s going on:
During your reproductive years, vaginal pH is typically 3.5-4.5. As your estrogen levels decline, the pH of your vagina becomes more acidic. This can lead to changes in vaginal discharge and odor (4).
Get V her very own “soap” (pH-balancing cleansers)
Switching to products that support our changing body’s pH can really help.
If you’re someone who never really loved their smell, or who never really chose to notice it much, the hormone-induced change in pH might be pretty darn off-putting.
If that’s the case, then the SHEbar is probably the direction you’re going to want to go. It smells absolutely fantastic and is enriched with coconut, argan, and avocado oils. The nicest thing is that it’s soap-free, but still offers an awesome lather for a gentle, smooth, and nourishing cleanse.
Personally, though, I’ve fallen in love with Joylux’s aloe-based cleansHER—with legitimate conviction.
I’ve long found that traditional soaps irritate my skin, leaving me dry and itchy, while water leaves me feeling not quite clean enough. Joylux’s cleansHER doesn’t feel like a soap or shower gel, but leaves me feeling squeaky clean in all my down-under places (including beneath my breasts and under my pits).
I’ve been way more comfortable in my skin since subbing my soap for this during my morning shower routine.
Okay, so, yes. Your body may be changing and that’s just the way it’s going to be. But the change doesn’t have to be a mystery and it doesn’t have to be painful.
In fact, perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause can be a second chance at puberty. One where you get to actually heed and practice the self-care and women’s wellness advice your fore-mothers gave you. One where you indulge in your womanhood and come out of the change healthier, happier, and more (pH) balanced.
The beauty of Joylux’s vFit, HER Intimate Care lines, and online community, is that we don’t have to be actually in the midst of the change to reap the health benefits and wellness wisdom. We can use them as preventative care to help us maintain healthy vaginal tissue and muscle tone.
In these small but not insignificant ways, the struggle of menopause is not guaranteed, but rather a choice we make. We can change our tomorrows today—starting with just 6 minutes on the beginner level of a vFit session, a 30-second gentle scrub-down in the shower, or a few small drops of moisturizing serum before heading out the door.