Me & My Menopausal Vagina

Thank you Jane for writing this blog and sharing your story in your amazing book.
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Jane Lewis funded this book herself, so please support her by buying this book, it is not only informative, its very well written and will make you laugh and cry!
Me & My Menopausal Vagina…
My name is Jane. I am 52 years old and married for 34 years, I have 3 daughters, a Grand daughter and two dogs; Bertie and Bonnie.
My vaginal atrophy started when I was about 45 but looking back the early signs probably started when I was around 40 though I was unaware of it at the time. I can remember the odd feeling of pain during sex… that hadn’t been there before. Then came the occasional soreness which at first was insignificant enough to ignore until it gradually grew more noticeable and more frequent until it couldn’t be ignored any longer.
Eventually it got so bad. Dryness, itching, burning, soreness, constant UTIs, thinning splitting skin, painful intercourse, uncomfortable to sit.. unable to wear your favourite jeans. It was then that my mind bordered on the suicidal.
To be honest, having plucked up the courage to see a GP, the initial responses from the NHS weren’t that great. In fact I felt as if the pain that I was now experiencing was ‘all in the head’ and that a dose of antidepressants would be the cure… I was beginning to believe that that was the case. But I wasn’t happy with that, in fact I was really upset that I hadn’t been listened to. So I went back to a GP that I knew would be more sympathetic and that changed everything.
That was seven years ago and during that time I have been seen by the most compassionate GP, but have also made appointments both privately and on the NHS with practitioners who should not be working in women’s gynaecological health, both in the way they talk and examine. I have literally had to be scrapped off the ceiling a couple of times from their internal examinations, they seemed uncaring and those experiences were painfully traumatic.
What I also found was that it’s very easy to get onto a merry go round, seeing consultants, simply through desperation, it seemed that no one truly understood what it is like to have urogenital pain. It simply takes over your mind.
To make matters worse, I had diagnoses of lichen sclerosis and thrush where in both cases they were never officially tested… it was just assumed that that was the case. So, with the treatment I was given for both these conditions it actually made my vaginal atrophy even more sore.
My problem was actually down to natural ageing…Often listed as a symptom of “vaginal dryness”, many women are totally unprepared for it’s onset. For me and for many ladies with vaginal dryness it is pure misery.
When I finally realised what my condition was I turned to Facebook and started signing myself onto any support group that might help. Through these groups it dawned on me that so many ladies were actually worse than me but they felt equally uncomfortable writing about it. So I set up closed groups as a safe haven for ladies to freely chat between themselves about their conditions.
That’s when I thought that the knowledge and experience I had gained over the past seven years had to be put into words and tell the story of how the condition has affected me and my menopausal vagina…
That’s the title of the book that I’ve just finished co-writing with my daughter Penny. An odd title perhaps, but it’s the part of menopause that has affected me the most and a subject that is still so taboo.
The most important reason for me to write the book was to try to start to break down this taboo. As such, the book is so much more than just writing about vaginal atrophy. In writing the book my aim is to help women become more aware of vulvo vaginal health and to encourage them to educate their daughters about their bodies and all that it is to be a women in the 21st century.