natural menopause

15. Vaginal dryness and soreness, and an increased risk of bacterial and fungal infection such as thrush and cystitis, are possible during the perimenopause…

This is due to reduced levels of oestrogen. The best way to reduce vaginal dryness and loss of tone is regular sexual intercourse, especially orgasms, as this helps keep secretions flowing and vaginal tissue taut. Of course, you may very well not feel like having intercourse if you’re feeling dry and sore…. And this is where extra lubrication is called for. Herbal pessaries made from ingredients such as cocoa or shea butter, calendula, vitamin E and essential oils such as tea tree and lavender, are soothing, moisturising, lubricating and healing.

A healthy diet and lifestyle can help prevent, and alleviate, thrush and cystitis. It’s very important to avoid foods containing sugar and yeast, for example, as they feed candida (thrush). This includes sugar found in alcohol, by the way. Synthetic and tight-fitting underwear and clothing can also exacerbate thrush by encouraging warm damp conditions in which candida thrives.

Herbal medicine, including liquid extracts to be taken orally and pessaries for insertion into the vagina, can be very helpful for thrush and cystitis. It’s best to see a qualified herbalist for effective herbal treatment.

Other tips for helping alleviate cystitis is to drink lots of water and herbal teas such as couch grass, bearberry and corn silk to flush the bacteria out of the system. Plus pure cranberry juice (ie, without sugar!) which helps prevent the bacteria adhering to the bladder wall. To be most effective, you need to start drinking lots of water, herbal teas and cranberry juice as soon as you suspect cystitis. To stop the sharp pain that can be experienced after urinating with cystitis, drink one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in a glass of water every few hours.

Persistent, cystitis-like symptoms, where no trace of infection can be found, which is known as interstitial cystitis, is also quite common during menopause. Stress is often a factor, but it is often more complicated and it’s important to see a qualified herbalist for help. The gut, for example, may be involved, with symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramping, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).