When one thinks of olive oil, things such as pasta, salad, bread, etc, come to mind….. Well, add vaginal atrophy to the list. WHAT ?!?! And just what is vaginal atrophy? It’s the change in vaginal architecture that occurs as a result of decreased estrogen effect. While said decrease can be caused by numerous factors including certain medications (specifically anti-estrogenic drugs), breastfeeding, the post-partum period (time frame after one has a baby); by and large the majority of women that I see suffering from this are in menopause.
Talk about a game changer……decreased estrogen levels, as seen in menopause, cause the vaginal epithelium(which makes up the walls of the vagina) to become thin; fragile. The vagina loses its folds (rugae) which are responsible for the vagina’s ability to accommodate/stretch. The vagina is no longer able to adequately lubricate and hence becomes easily traumatized. Due to a shift in vaginal pH from an acidic to a more basic environment, one becomes more prone to infections due to alterations in the normal vaginal flora(and I’m not talking daisies and roses but species like lactobacillus).
Feelings of irritation, burning, itching, pressure, occasionally bleeding and intercourse that is so painful that your lover will reconsider a second attempt due to your reaction from the previous one…..all characteristic of vaginal atrophy.
While there are numerous ways to approach treatment of vaginal atrophy ranging from estrogen therapy to vaginal dilators, lubricants and moisturizers; an unexpected option found either on your dinner table (depending on what you’re serving that evening) or in your pantry: Olive Oil.
Olive oil does the vagina good! Kinda like milk(smile). It’s a great external moisturizer for the vulva (the lips/skin surrounding the vagina) and can also be used internally……let the magic begin. I recommend coating the index finger with olive oil (cheap, expensive, virgin, extra-virgin…it’s all the same) ,massaging the introitus (vaginal opening) and then lubricating/coating the inner walls of the vagina. Depending on the severity of the atrophy, I recommend doing this 2-3 times daily, and then as needed.
You’ll never look at Olive oil the same again! Your vagina will thank you!
Until next time, Look Better. Feel Better. Be Better.
Mother, Midwesterner, and award-winning OB/GYN, Dr. Angela is equal parts best girlfriend and bold professional, supporting women’s health with innovative approaches to care and heavy doses of humor. Dr. Angela has done more than launch a successful practice, she has defined herself as a voice for a new generation of womanhood, established her ASK DR. ANGELA brand committed to authenticity, and built a community rooted in trust, candor, and compassion.