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Topic: vaginal dryness

Forum: "Middle Age" 40-60(ish) Years Old With Breast Cancer —

Meet others in this age-range who share similar life issues.

Posted on: Dec 22, 2011 05:33PM

blessed wrote:

ok, yeah, touchy subject, but I need to know and you guys are the bomb for my embarrasing questions.  I am on aromasin (4th year) and am 52.  It is so painful, without having sex, but very painful during.  Anyone else????  I am using replens and that is all.  Thank you so much!!!!!

8-03-07,IDC,stage1,grade1 1.2cm,er+,pr+Her2-,bilateral mastectomy,oncotype dx 15
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Apr 3, 2013 11:06AM hatlady52 wrote:

I was post-menopausal and was taking HRT which was discontinued when My BC was diagnosed. I was surprised how quickly the vaginal dryness and pain set in. I have used Astroglide for years and recently added Replens, but still had too much discomfort.

Yesterday I saw my Gyn who prescribed Estring. Now, I suspect she might not have been so willing to prescribe this if my cancer and/or treatment status was different, but I had a BMX, only DCIS, and am ER- and PR-. I like the fact that you insert the Estring and it works for 90 days, then you replace it. The doc said I can remove it for sex if it bothers my husband. She also said she has very elderly patients who use this and come to her office to have it changed if mobility issues prevent them from doing it for themselves.

As for Vagifem, my doc said it used to be her preferred treatment until the 25mg dose was discontinued; the 10mg dose is inadequate for some women, and the insurance companies refuse to pay for a double dose (two 10mg at a time) needed for effective treatment.

Dx 1/21/2013, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR- Surgery 3/11/2013 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left
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Apr 3, 2013 02:03PM Lily55 wrote:

Try YES YES YES gels.......all natural and safe

Dx 4/2012, ILC, 5cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 7/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 5/3/2012 Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right Radiation Therapy 8/15/2012 Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 7/19/2013 Aromasin (exemestane) Radiation Therapy 3/7/2019 External: Bone Chemotherapy Taxol (paclitaxel)
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Apr 3, 2013 03:08PM wenweb wrote:

Hi All,  I've been using Vagifem for years.  Briefly stopped when I got my diagnosis, and that ended me with a bladder infection the day before I was scheduled for my lumpectomy :(  Long story short, I did restart it when I got the clearance from all of my docs.  By then (as mentioned above), the dose went from 25 down to 10 and I have no problems with the lower dose.  Also, I only use it once a week (even though it is RX'd as twice per week), and it keeps me comfortable.  In addition, Astroglide and then 250mg of Cipro after sex and no bladder infections. Yay!!  Of course I'm not having sex anymore...

You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe, and smarter than you think you are. A.A. Milne Surgery 9/23/2009 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/18/2009 Breast Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Apr 5, 2013 03:00PM - edited Apr 18, 2014 12:57PM by ahdjdbcjdjdbkf

This Post was deleted by ahdjdbcjdjdbkf.
Dx 3/2/2012, IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Dx 3/2/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 3/22/2012 Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 4/5/2012 AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy 6/27/2012 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 10/7/2012 3DCRT: Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 1/27/2013 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Surgery 8/6/2013 Reconstruction (right): Latissimus dorsi flap Surgery 8/6/2013 Reconstruction (left) Surgery 2/24/2014 Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction
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Apr 19, 2013 03:52PM - edited Apr 18, 2014 12:58PM by ahdjdbcjdjdbkf

This Post was deleted by ahdjdbcjdjdbkf.
Dx 3/2/2012, IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Dx 3/2/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 3/22/2012 Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 4/5/2012 AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy 6/27/2012 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 10/7/2012 3DCRT: Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 1/27/2013 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Surgery 8/6/2013 Reconstruction (right): Latissimus dorsi flap Surgery 8/6/2013 Reconstruction (left) Surgery 2/24/2014 Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction
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May 14, 2013 07:30PM msphil wrote:

I also had painful intercourse, my husband was very patient with me, but after I was done all treatment and after awhile it was better and better and then back 2 normal.msphil(idc,stage 2, 3 nodes, L mast, chemo and rads and now 19 yrs SURVIVOR(Praise GOD).

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Jun 7, 2013 05:34PM BUNKIE10 wrote:

Hi Ladies,

I am 60 and just stopping HRT after 12 years.  I have been reading the stuff here for a bit and am going to try the coconut oil. Replens made me itch sort of and I have used KY for years but lately it does not stop the pain in the beginning.

I do have another question. Summers Eve changed the formula on my vaginal wash and now it slightly burns so I have tried the cetiphil I use on my body but it also burns and I get a slight discharge. I have been only using water but it still needs more I feel.

What does everyone use down there to wash with?

Dx 6/11/2012, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER-/PR- Surgery 7/22/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 8/7/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 10/3/2012 Breast
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Jun 7, 2013 07:20PM wenweb wrote:

Baby shampoo.

You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe, and smarter than you think you are. A.A. Milne Surgery 9/23/2009 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/18/2009 Breast Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jun 7, 2013 08:08PM BUNKIE10 wrote:

wenweb - Thanks. Johnsons?

Dx 6/11/2012, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER-/PR- Surgery 7/22/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 8/7/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 10/3/2012 Breast
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Jun 8, 2013 07:08AM wenweb wrote:

Only if it's on sale Wink

You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe, and smarter than you think you are. A.A. Milne Surgery 9/23/2009 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/18/2009 Breast Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jun 8, 2013 09:02AM udpt82 wrote:

I saw a couple of people mentioned hyaluronic acid.  I recently saw a new GYN who recommended it in suppository form.  Everything I read online talks about it in pill form.  Does anyone know if there is possible risk of using it as a suppository?  My tumor was ER+, PR+, HER- and I don't want to take any risks.

Thanks.

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Aug 10, 2013 06:34PM sheri47 wrote:

I have tried different stuff and it burns even when I wash it burns Anyone with that issue and if you went off arimadex did it get better thank you

Dx IDC, 2cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 6, 2013 01:25AM mclark55 wrote:

Hi there - just wanted to warn everyone OFF of baby shampoo, in all of its forms unless it's organic. Don't use Johnson's PLEASE! It's full of toxic chemicals, many of which are endocrine disrupters. Use a nice organic body wash for washing "down there". If you need to know whether your product is good or bad, go to www.ewg.org/skin deep/ and enter some of the ingredients in the "search" field. A low score will come up with a green 0-2 score, anything over that is suspect. This is information the manufacturers of cheap skin care products don't want us to know. Most OTC cosmetics and body products are NOT safe to use and our consumer watch-dog is not protecting us. Okay, that' s my soapbox for the day.

Love and light, Marnie (MarnieClark.com) Dx 4/2/2004, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR+ Surgery 4/21/2004 Lumpectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Latissimus dorsi flap Chemotherapy 10/31/2004 Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Fluorouracil (5-fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil), Methotrexate (Amethopterin, Mexate, Folex)
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Nov 6, 2013 07:11AM wenweb wrote:

Thank-you mclark55!! I've changed so much in my life since BC, including using the ewg website, but have never checked out the baby soaps. Why are our minds so wired to automatically think that certain things are ok because of their name or intended use?? It is indeed very sad.

You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe, and smarter than you think you are. A.A. Milne Surgery 9/23/2009 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/18/2009 Breast Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Feb 25, 2014 04:05PM BUNKIE10 wrote:

Hi ladies - It has been awhile since I posted. I came to this post to see about vaginal wash. My summjers eve was burning because they changed the formula. I did try every baby shampoo I could find. They all burned. I did go see the gyno and had a pap etc but no yeast etc. Just very dry and sensitive. I just use water right now. Still feel icky.

I sent for a new on called Healthy Hoo Hoo. Anyone hear of it? Any experience?

Dx 6/11/2012, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER-/PR- Surgery 7/22/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 8/7/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 10/3/2012 Breast
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Mar 17, 2014 02:44PM capricornchrissy wrote:

Bunkie10, I have heard that vaginal washes are bad because they wash away all of the natural lubrication.  Since I have lubrication issues after surgery, I don't use anything like that.  Just external soap and water.  I am going to try the olive/cocunut oil.  I bet if it keeps me lubricated, it will also keep me clean down there?  

Dx 5/2/2012, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, 1/20 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 5/8/2012 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 7/15/2012 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 12/1/2012 Breast Surgery 1/12/2013 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 4/14/2013 Femara (letrozole) Surgery 5/8/2013 Reconstruction (left): Latissimus dorsi flap, Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Latissimus dorsi flap, Nipple reconstruction
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Mar 17, 2014 02:48PM - edited Mar 17, 2014 02:49PM by capricornchrissy

Mclark55 - thanks for the EWG link.  It is always a struggle to find natural lotions and cosmetics.  Do you have any sources that you trust?  (I'm fine with ordering online).  Recently I have used Juice Beauty, but I need to check out the ingredients with the EWG site.  

Dx 5/2/2012, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, 1/20 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 5/8/2012 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 7/15/2012 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 12/1/2012 Breast Surgery 1/12/2013 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 4/14/2013 Femara (letrozole) Surgery 5/8/2013 Reconstruction (left): Latissimus dorsi flap, Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Latissimus dorsi flap, Nipple reconstruction
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Mar 18, 2014 04:40PM BUNKIE10 wrote:

Thanks I may have to try that. The Healthy Hoo Hoo nade me itch also. Not as bad as the Summer Eve but still I can not use soap.. I find it strange I can use the Cetiphil on my body but not there. Strange body. 

Dx 6/11/2012, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER-/PR- Surgery 7/22/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 8/7/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 10/3/2012 Breast
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Mar 18, 2014 07:08PM wenweb wrote:

I've made comments on this thread in the past, but never mentioned going through spells of having just plain discomfort "down there" for no reason whatsoever.  That is if you consider menopause and AI's no reason whatsoever.  It's always easy to say or think it was the last product we used etc, but IMHO, it's also circumstantial to our situation(s).  The bottom line it that it's not the greatest picnic ending up with no or little estrogen (combined with the joy of no monthly period), because that in itself has it's own set up unpleasantries.  It's a chore having to deal with our lady parts, and we all have our own challenges.  I guess that's all I have to say on the matter because I'm not sure it ever gets completely better Sad

You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe, and smarter than you think you are. A.A. Milne Surgery 9/23/2009 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/18/2009 Breast Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Mar 19, 2014 02:44PM BUNKIE10 wrote:

WenWeb - You are right it is a real puzzle. Thanks for the reply. Guess I will stick to water for now. Thinking of investing in a bidet. That might help. If I find anything that works I will post.

Dx 6/11/2012, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER-/PR- Surgery 7/22/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 8/7/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 10/3/2012 Breast
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Mar 26, 2014 08:05PM Momof4gramof3 wrote:

I'm totally new to this site and the discussion boards but this one is of particular importance to me. I've been on Arimidex for less than a month and I'm already having a terrible time with vaginal dryness! It's making me crazy. I'm interested in using organic coconut oil and want to ask how well it's worked for those who have tried. I believe I read on the forum that someone had made it into suppositories? That sound promising and would love to have more information.  I've tried Replens and I don't like it AT ALL!  I suppose I should give it more time but I just don't like the mess.
I'm almost 64 and DH has been more than patient and loving but we're not ready to give up sex all together!
Any and all help would be appreciated.

Dx 12/3/2013, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/19/2013 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 2/11/2014 3DCRT: Breast Hormonal Therapy 12/1/2014 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Mar 26, 2014 08:38PM wenweb wrote:

Sorry momo :(  I tried replens and hated it as well. I haven't tried coconut oil in my vagina, but have used it on my skin. I'm pretty sure it would also be a messy deal. Some of us is vaginal estrogen with the blessings of our docs. If you have not been advised to stay away from estrogen, you might consider checking into it. 

Good-luck!!

You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe, and smarter than you think you are. A.A. Milne Surgery 9/23/2009 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/18/2009 Breast Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Mar 26, 2014 09:14PM TarheelMichelle wrote:

OMG, I hate Replens too. Why do so many docs recommend that messy stuff?

Look for Key-E by Carlson on Amazon. They are vaginal suppositories with coconut and palm oil, and Vitamin E. My oncologist recommended these. Not sold in stores, I don't think. Helps and not messy at all.

Honestly, though, if these don't work for someone, you should talk to your doctor about Vagifem. Over the counter products will help slight vaginal dryness, but sometimes the estrogen deprivation is too great, and it's still too dry. That can cause tearing of tissues, which no one wants! I've used Vagifem in the past and am going to go back on it. I am Stage IV and don't consider it a high quality of life to have female parts that are dry and sore and unable to enjoy attention from my husband. I mean, really, how is that life worth living? 

I've been using (and have recommended before) the Burt's Bee product called Baby Bee multipurpose ointment. It is petroleum free, but has the consistency of vaseline when applied, but as it warms up, it's a little more liquid. So what I'm trying to say, ahem, is, if you just want to apply it as moisturizer on your lady parts, it is not runny or messy, but if you want to use it for romance, it works for that too. 

Having been on several treatments, it has been completely wild/depressing to see how my body has changed as the cancer treatment has affected the estrogen in my system. My lady parts have experienced "shrinkage"!!! 

Ronda - Extensive mets to lungs & bones. My life is Stage IV precious. Celebrating 8 years with Stage IV 12/2019 Dx 2/14/2008, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/11/2008 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 4/17/2008 Dx 12/19/2011, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/lungs, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 1/31/2012 Aromasin (exemestane) Hormonal Therapy 12/19/2012 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Hormonal Therapy 7/16/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 4/24/2014 Reconstruction (left) Radiation Therapy 11/21/2014 External: Bone Targeted Therapy 11/17/2015 Afinitor (everolimus) Targeted Therapy 5/20/2016 Hormonal Therapy 6/1/2016 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Faslodex (fulvestrant) Targeted Therapy Ibrance (palbociclib)
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Mar 27, 2014 05:51AM wenweb wrote:

"Shrinkage",  how funny, but true!!    

You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe, and smarter than you think you are. A.A. Milne Surgery 9/23/2009 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/18/2009 Breast Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Mar 28, 2014 12:12AM - edited Mar 28, 2014 12:15AM by Oceana

I've tried everything. I also hate the replense and astroglide.  My onc is totally anti anything estrogen, so I take the Vagifem on the down and low.  That's the only thing that helps me.  The lubricants are just that : lubricants.  But if you're having vaginal atrophy which is a totally closed vagina that is estrogen depleted, no amount of lubricant is going to help regarding the painful sex and bleeding on penetration. So, what has worked for me to at least make sex a little more comfortable is the Vagifem and I also make my own coconut oil suppositories and keep them in the refridgerator until ready to insert., I form little bullet size shapes of coconut oil on a teaspoon, and once formed into a supporsitory shape I store the coco bullets on a litte sheet of tin foil  closed loosely over them and keep it in the rigridgerator where I store the butter.  I insert them at night when I go to bed, and betwee the Vagifem, and these coconut oil inserts it works to help plump up the tissues within the vagina, so that at least sex can be more comfortable and even pleasurable.  Hope this helps.Smile

Oceana

marvelous-nicole-rodriguez.jpg (180×119)

1/13/2009 IDC Tumor 5.2cm with Lobular Features 3/18/2009 SN MX Free Tram flap Reconstruction 4/7/2009 Axillary Node Dissection 2/18 lymph nodes Chemotherapy Adrimycin Cytoxin, Taxol,Rads, No more AI's too many side effects for me. Dx 1/13/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 1, 2/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Radiation Therapy Breast, Lymph nodes Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol)
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Mar 28, 2014 07:20AM wenweb wrote:

Oceana, any coconut oil I have used turns into liquid when it comes in contact with warm skin.  How are you able to form?

You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe, and smarter than you think you are. A.A. Milne Surgery 9/23/2009 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/18/2009 Breast Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Mar 28, 2014 11:12AM - edited Mar 28, 2014 11:15AM by Oceana

wenweb,

I buy it by the jar in the oil section of the supermarket.  It's in solid form in the jar. I scoop some out with a teaspoon and kind of shape it with another teaspoon, and roll it onto the tin foil.  It stays solid as long as you don't handle it, or very very minimally while shaping.  It stays solid while you instert it but then once inside it will liquify, so that's why I do it at bedtime while I'm lying down.  Also, you have to store it in the refridgerator so it is hard and solid when you are ready to insert it as a suppository. It goes in very easily because it's a natural lubricant once it slides against warm skin.



Oceana

marvelous-nicole-rodriguez.jpg (180×119)

1/13/2009 IDC Tumor 5.2cm with Lobular Features 3/18/2009 SN MX Free Tram flap Reconstruction 4/7/2009 Axillary Node Dissection 2/18 lymph nodes Chemotherapy Adrimycin Cytoxin, Taxol,Rads, No more AI's too many side effects for me. Dx 1/13/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 1, 2/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Radiation Therapy Breast, Lymph nodes Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol)
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Mar 29, 2014 04:06PM BUNKIE10 wrote:

Shrinkage does discribe the problem. I am still having a problem finding soap to use down there that does not iratate the area. Nothing helps. It does seem like it is much tighter...shrinkage it is. Maybe a coconut oil soap would work too.

Dx 6/11/2012, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER-/PR- Surgery 7/22/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 8/7/2012 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 10/3/2012 Breast
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Mar 30, 2014 01:47PM - edited Mar 30, 2014 01:50PM by Oceana

Bunkie,

Yes, Shrinkage, Collapsed or Closed Vagina, Vagismus, are all the same issues of Vaginal Atrophy.  I copied and pasted this, below.  Anyway it seems for me, the Vagifem and coconut oil nightly has helped.

What is Vaginal Atrophy?

Vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) is a medical condition characterized by the inflammation of the vagina due to diminishing estrogen levels and is usually brought on by menopause. It results in thinning and shrinking of the vaginal walls as well as reduced lubrication. The pelvic floor muscles, urethra, and vagina (the entire uro-genital tract) may all be affected by the reduction of estrogen production.

Symptoms may include:
  • vaginal dryness, itching, burning
  • discomfort and/or painful sexual intercourse
  • slight spotting/bleeding during intercourse
  • thinning pubic hair
  • increased frequency of UTIs
  • increased vaginal infections
  • increased vaginal PH levels
When & Why Does This Happen?

Vaginal atrophy can develop whenever there is a prolonged reduction in the amount of estrogen a woman’s body produces. This drop in estrogen could be due to the onset of menopause, treatment for cancer, surgical removal of the ovaries, or following giving birth. Although most commonly seen in older women, it does affect younger women as well.

Menopause Facts: Defined as 12 months since a woman’s menstrual cycle; average age 51.3 yrs., not a single event, symptoms last on average 3.8 years.³

  • Menopause – Vaginal Atrophy is a common symptom of menopause. It has been estimated that over 50% of menopausal women will develop atrophy.¹ Some estimates are even higher at 75-90%.²
  • Cancer treatments – Cervical, Ovarian, Breast, Uterine
    • Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause ovarian failure. With little to no estrogen being produced menopause is brought on. Vaginal atrophy can also be a side effect of treatment for cancers that are not specifically located in the pelvic region.
  • Surgery - Surgical removal of the ovaries immediately brings the onset of menopause and can cause vaginal atrophy to develop.
  • Childbirth/breast-feeding
    • Following childbirth and while breastfeeding some women experience a drop in estrogen levels causing vaginal dryness.
What is Vaginismus?

Vaginismus is a condition where there is involuntary tightness of the vagina during attempted intercourse. Reacting to the anticipation of pain, the body automatically tightens the vaginal muscles, bracing to protect itself from harm. Sex becomes uncomfortable or painful, and entry may be more difficult or impossible depending upon the severity of this tightened state.
[see Causes]

Vaginal Atrophy and Vaginismus

When vaginal atrophy goes undiagnosed and a woman continues to attempt to engage in intercourse,vaginismus may develop. It is important in these situations to address both the vaginal atrophy and vaginismus. Both problems will need to be treated to ensure full resolution. Without addressing the vaginal atrophy, it will be difficult to resolve the vaginismus as it may continue to be triggered by painfrom the atrophy condition.

Questions to Ask Yourself if You Suspect Vaginal Atrophy:
  • Has sex become increasingly uncomfortable?
  • Does your vagina feel like ‘sandpaper’?
  • Do you have vaginal dryness, itching, and/or burning?
  • Have you noticed a decrease in your natural lubrication?
  • Have pelvic/gynecological exams become uncomfortable?
  • Have there been changes in the outer appearance of the vagina? Shrinking folds of skin? Less pubic hair?
  • Is there a reason you may be experiencing a drop in estrogen production – approaching menopause, cancer treatment, etc.?
Solutions For Vaginal Atrophy

If you suspect you may have vaginal atrophy see your physician or a gynecologist for a consultation. She/he will take your personal history and likely do a pelvic exam to examine your vagina. Based on the assessment, a course of treatment will be recommended and will take into account your personal history, symptoms, and severity.

The course of treatment for vaginal atrophy may include use of personal lubricant, estrogen supplements, vaginal dilators, and/or pelvic floor therapy (physical therapy).

Why Dilators are Recommended

Vaginal dilators are used to slowly increase the size of the vagina, restoring length, shape, and elasticity. They are used to gently massage and stretch the vaginal tissue making penetration more comfortable. This is especially effective due to the narrowing of the vaginal canal.

Other Treatments

Personal lubricants help make the vaginal canal more slippery so there is less dryness and friction during penetration.

Vaginal moisturizers help alleviate ongoing vaginal dryness (examples - Replens, olive oil, coconut oil).

Kegels are pelvic floor exercises that help to draw blood flow to the vagina, increase elasticity, and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. They also help to improve control over the vaginal muscles.

Estrogen is primarily used to help rebuild the tissue or lining of the vagina. This leads to increased lubrication. There are many different options in using estrogen ranging from vaginal cream, suppositories, or rings, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Be sure to discuss any and all hormone-based treatments with your physician.

Professionally trained physical therapists can provide pelvic floor therapy for the treatment of vagina atrophy as well as any accompanying vaginismus.

For women with vaginal atrophy and no accompanying vaginismus, regular and consistent use of vaginal dilators is often suggested. Typical protocol follows inserting a lubricated dilator, leaving it in for a period of time each day, then gradually increasing the size of the dilator inserted

Oceana

marvelous-nicole-rodriguez.jpg (180×119)

1/13/2009 IDC Tumor 5.2cm with Lobular Features 3/18/2009 SN MX Free Tram flap Reconstruction 4/7/2009 Axillary Node Dissection 2/18 lymph nodes Chemotherapy Adrimycin Cytoxin, Taxol,Rads, No more AI's too many side effects for me. Dx 1/13/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 1, 2/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Radiation Therapy Breast, Lymph nodes Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol)
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Jun 3, 2014 04:57PM - edited Jun 4, 2014 06:48AM by MsMay

thanks Oceana, that was the info I was looking for. I did not have chemo, had BC (BXM), and going thru menopause, and I have vag atrophy, some problems with lubrication, but mainly tightness and shrinkage. How do I find a doctor to go to? Most gyn's are more  OB Drs, I live in Tampa Fl so plenty to choose from, but want one who is more into women issues with menopause and BC, any suggestions?

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