Thursday, April 19, 2012

Protection and Rejuvenation Of Our Pink Parts

Our Delicate Area

When dealing with skincare, most of us think in terms of what we can see and that the norm is as it relates to our faces and bodies. But what about the parts we don't see?

Sometimes it is assumed that the area in question will take care of itself, at least that is what I thought to be true.....uh not so fast it seems.

As we age, there is nothing more subject to aging and irritation, than our tiny pink parts. Yes, I do mean our "delicates", the vulva and vaginal area. But for duration of this article, I will fondly refer to this area as our "pink parts."

Although I try to be open and honest about things when I explain them to my daughter for instance, the little bit of "prude" holds on from the teaching of my mom and in reverence of their memory, I'll remain as prim and proper as I am able to, but in today's society, this area of discussion need no longer be "taboo." And if there are other women without the benefit of having their elders be there with them throughout their adult years to explore such issues, as I did, both passing away before I was 27 years of age, then I hope what I can offer in this article will help women, young or old, that may be on the same road as I am, or at the very least, will be in the future.

Many things can subject us to dryness, redness, itchiness, soreness and worse, atrophy. Not a subject easily explored, even by me, but I finally had to take a proactive approach when dealing with all of the above, especially now that I am officially through with menopause.

Even though aging causes many of these problems, these symptoms are not irrelevant to younger women. For example, women that have had to undergo a hysterectomy so early in life and typically maintain levels of hormones through the use of hormone replacement therapy.

HRT Not An Option

When I originally tried HRT back in my late thirties as I went through perimenopause, after 5 years of use, I began to suffer from side effects to the progesterone portion of the treatment, including vertigo and drug induced lupus. In the interim however, it was truly a lifesaver for me and helped me to regain my sanity once more. This was a hurdle I don't feel I could have overcome without it during this phase of my life.

Once I removed this from my regimen, fortunately my body stabilized hormone wise and the side effects subsided and completely cleared after about a full year.

In fact, I was unsure of using any form of hormones to assist me with keeping things working with my pink parts based on my past experience. I began to feel "this is it" for me, and an acceptance settled into roost that this is just the sad part of aging, and that any normalcy of intimacy for me and my hubby would be forever different.

Dryness and Irritation

Since I wasn't keen on taking HRT, I researched OTC remedies and discovered REPLENS. Although it does work well on the dryness, it does nothing to remedy the atrophy or all irritation that occurs to our pink parts. It does absolutely nothing for pain.

It also has some ingredients that did cause me some concern, especially utilizing them in an area that has a direct feed to our blood supply.

I did tons of research to see what other avenues I could explore, now getting desperate to fight off this ruinous side effect to women that no longer can produce estrogen on their own.

Sought Help

I have an awesome female doctor, and once I overcame some of my embarrassment in regard to my latest challenge to aging, I decided to make an appointment with her and completely open up about my intimate issues and concerns for using any type of HRT. Wonderfully, desperation can sometimes overrule unfounded fears as I learned in our consult.

She taught me much about my pink parts and explained how they function as to them once being plump like collagen on a face. They are actually puffy folds that expand and contract, yet have now been reduced to shrinkage and atrophy. Correcting the atrophy was the ultimate goal since this is the source of pain and dryness, but I told her I didn't want the estrogen to replace it....what was one to do?

She advised me to stop using REPLENS since she was a bit concerned about it causing some continuing irritation based on the ingredient profile and it was pretty much producing a bunch of gunk.

She then recommended Estrace which is an estradiol vaginal cream. I expressed my reservations about using this in terms of how it is absorbed into the bloodstream and not wishing to introduce higher levels of estrogen into my body....of course making this statement based on a lot of fear generating blogs which don't really understand the chemistry of this treatment. As other women can relate, I'm sure, my concerns are more than likely similar to theirs, in not really wanting to mess with mother nature, but I could not allow my life to deteriorate as I knew it. I wanted to maintain life like when I was younger and full of vim and vigor.

Thank goodness for her kindness and willingness to explain and educate me in the science with no condescension. She told me not to use the applicator and to only use a daub of cream in the immediate area and slightly deeper, and this is all it would take to rejuvenate my tiny pink parts. She assured me, this reduced risk due to dosing and the miniscule amount that would travel internally would be so insignificant as to bodily absorption, should not bear any level of worry on my part, basically no more than what I get naturally from fruits and vegetables. Plus estradiol is a bio identical estrogen our own bodies create or did create. She only wanted to assist with the localized conditions of dryness, irritation and restoring the plumpness and suppleness to the area, just like any good face cream can do.

Taking Care Of Our Pink Parts

Even though there are many of my readers that try to use as much organic and natural products as they can, including myself, such as handmade soaps using butters and oils, they apparently, still should never be used on our pink parts. Things like douches, soaps, cleansing gels, are all problematic and can further contribute to the symptoms stated above.

My doctor advised me that all we should use is warm water during our showers and to only take clear water baths with a touch of skin softening essential oils. We, of course, can absolutely wash the external area of the vulva with a favorite cleanser, but never go beyond this and only use rinse water for gentle care of our pink parts.

Many bloggers have recommended all sorts of concoctions out of our kitchen cupboards such as olive oil and such for vaginal dryness, but although natural, it is never a replacement for actually correcting what our body is going through as we is so much more involved.

Personal Choice

Of course using any type of estrogen cream is a personal choice and some may still have reservations on this issue. The only thing I can add, is to do research as I did, get all the facts as to dose and risk, and then visit with your doctor to see if using a daub of estradiol cream can correct many of the unwanted side effects women get as they age, with minimal risk.

By using topical estrogen for targeted treatment instead of a broad overall treatment with oral HRT, we also eliminate the processes of the liver, whereby further eliminating risk to those that may be susceptible to blood clot related HRT or contribute to hormone related breast cancer by substantially increasing estrogen throughout the body that we no longer want or need otherwise.

As a whole, I am doing fantastic and my body has not missed the estrogen, so I pretty much sailed through menopause with little problem and with zero medical intervention, except for the one important side effect that seems to have been easily remedied. Plus I am now blessed with carrying around a few extra post menopausal pounds which as explained by my doctor, are murder for taking off these days. It is what it is I guess.....

The creation of Estrace cream certainly restored my faith in modern science, and revitalized a new carefree desire in me, and has literally turned back the clock and allowed me to continue to have a fulfilled love life with my main squeeze.....after all we are sensitive, sexual beings from cradle to grave. I thankfully learned, it doesn't need to end at menopause. And after the initial treatment of everyday for a week, I now only need it 2 x per week for maintenance. A small price to pay for keeping me young in more ways than one.

I am coming to the realization, that aging and menopause is not the end of life, but a new beginning of freedom, with modern science lending a helping hand on occasion.

Cheers to my fellow compatriots in life's trials and tribulations.

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