It may not be the most fun thing to stick up your vagina, but vaginal estrogen has a ton of benefits. Turns out, vaginally-applied estrogen may be a great fix for women going through menopause. When the body starts producing less estrogen and progesterone during menopause it can lead to many unwelcome symptoms including "irregular periods and vaginal dryness to mood swings and insomnia." No good. Especially because vaginal dryness leads to ripping and tears during sex, which means... well, really painful sex. Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help with this, it is often avoided due to some pretty big health concerns.
Reuters explains that "many women have been reluctant to use HRT to ease menopause symptoms since 2002, when the federally-funded Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study linked the treatments containing man-made versions of the female hormones estrogen and progestin to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes." But there's good news for those that had tried HRT and then went off it due to these worries.
A new study showed that "among the women who abandoned HRT and never went back, the participants using vaginal estrogen reported significantly higher satisfaction with their sex lives," largely due to decreased vaginal dryness. The study looked at 310 women, some who had used HRT for at least five years, but also shows promising results for women who haven't used HRT at all. So sex life after menopause may be looking better than ever.
Vaginal estrogen not for you? Here are four other things that can make sex better for women:
Not just for the stretchy bits. Yoga is great for your blood flow and sex hormones. The effect of cobra pose has been studied by SCIENCE and they found the "hormone cortisol — you know, the chemical that raises blood pressure and stress — decreased in the body by 11 percent and testosterone rose 16 percent." It's good news for sexy times.
2. A Clit Vacuum (...Stay With Me)
OK — I know. You don't even have to say it. What the eff is a clit vacuum? It's a little suction cup that ups the blood flow to the genitals. It sounds weird, but some women who have trouble getting aroused swear by it.
I just, I just can't say it enough times. Lube. Lube. LUBE.
4. Red Wine
A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who enjoy their red wine (in moderation) also have higher sex drives "perhaps because of the positive effect red wine has on blood flow." Cheers to that.
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our latest video on sex positions for small penises: