Menopause is never fun, but for some women, it's torture. Ladies, if you reach that time in your life and find that playtime with your man (or woman) feels like getting stabbed with a knife, then it might be time to work on those kegels.
A condition called dyspareunia (say it like this: dis-pah-ROO-nee-uh) can affect women at any time in their lives, but it's far more common for those who have reached menopause. Sometimes, the drop in estrogen that accompanies menopause can be blamed for the condition, but not always:
“One thing can easily trigger a cascade of problems,” says Dr. Elizabeth G. Stewart, a vulvovaginal specialist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Burlington, Mass., and Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
All the experts agree: Don't try to self-diagnose this malady; seek out a trained professional and climb into the straps for a pelvic exam with the nearest friendly OB-GYN.
That said, once the diagnosis is made, there are plenty of ways to relieve the condition and keep on making whoopee. According to MSN's Health page, you could even call it the LSUG technique:
• Lubes. We all love 'em, and any women suffering from dyspareunia would do well to seek out and experiment with as many as possible. (Although everyone should experiment with lubes anyway.) As always, take care to choose lubes that are condom-friendly, and if you decide to get slippery with a lube that's hostile to latex, don't have sex.
• Sex. As in, techniques. As in, try as many as you can. Just because you can't have penetrative sex for awhile doesn't mean you can't have fun. Try everything but (including the butt).
• Use it or Lose It. We've heard this old wive's tale before, but in this case, it has some truth. Even if you can't be penetrated, keep getting turned on; all that blood flowing to the nether regions is a huge help.
• General vulvar care. Keep it clean down there, but try to avoid any fancy soaps and cleaners that come laden with perfumes and other unnatural ingredients.
Overall, remember that it's a treatable condition. Even if it hurts, it doesn't have to keep hurting, and that's what matters.