Thank god menopause is being talked about a bit more these days. It has always been such a taboo subject. And, when it was discussed it was usually in derogatory terms about menopausal women being cranky and difficult. Sigh.
Personally, I have found menopause to be one of the most positive and empowering experiences I have had as a woman. I like the fact that as a childless woman, it has taken the possibility of having children away. That agony of wondering if one could or would have children is gone. This realisation brings with it some sadness but also some relief. Now it just is what it is, not what it could be.
I don’t like the weight gain, but I love not having a period. Years of being so conscious of the monthly calendar just slipped away until gradually I noticed that it had been a few months, or a year or more since my last period. I enjoy hot flushes – I like the surge of energy that washes through me and I like to surf it like a wave. I marvel at the human body and am exhilarated by its power.
I feel stronger, more myself in this stage of life. The age of the Crone. It comes with power and insight and knowledge. I feel womanly. Since ancient times many women have privately celebrated the difference phases of a woman’s life: maiden, mother, crone. A friend of mine called her menopause celebration the ‘Elder Flowering’.
While menopause is becoming more acceptable to talk about, one topic that is still taboo is the downside of all that estrogen reduction, vaginal dryness. Yep it is still not that cool to talk about the discomfort of dried up lady bits.
Did you know though that experts estimate that 40 - 60% of women will develop vaginal dryness at some point during the menopause transition?
Vaginal dryness is a very common symptom of menopause yet it can feel just too personal to discuss. Did you know though that experts estimate that 40 - 60% of women will develop vaginal dryness at some point during the menopause transition? For some women, vaginal dryness will start before their periods have stopped, while others will experience it in the years following menopause.
What is it about this dryness that make us feel unable to talk about it? After all, we seem happy enough to talk about periods and childbirth and less than perfect bladder control? Is it because women are meant to be ripe and ready and moist and juicy 24/7?
Acknowledging that dried up lady bits mean sex is painful, or that walking can chafe and irritate our bits, seems to carry with it a perception of us admitting to being ‘less than a woman’. Personally, I think we need to get over this and get the desiccation of our gardens of delight out from under such a dark cloud.
Looking for relief from painful symptoms
Is it because I embrace menopause, that other women have come to me asking me if I can help alleviate some of the symptoms of theirs? I’m not sure, but come they do and with them came the topic, that last taboo, of dried up lady bits.
Burning, stinging, irritation, itching, painful intercourse and general discomfort were the most common complaints discussed. The more women talked to me, the more I wanted to create something from nature’s medicine chest to help with this hidden symptom of ageing.
Developing a natural product that is not all about sex, but very much about feeling feminine and womanly and, to be frank, comfortable has been very liberating. Juicy (I have borrowed this succulent word from American herbalist Susun Weed) doesn’t have to mean ready to hump everything in sight like an overactive fox terrier. Juicy can simply mean feeling pain free.
A sense of comfort in one’s own body was of paramount importance in the brief I set myself as I started to develop my Archeus Naturally Feminine (aka Lady Bits) Balm. To get that ‘soothe factor’ my starting point was making it with oils and butters. Now oils and butters are lovely for the bits but bad news for condoms. If you are using condoms then stick to the temporary relief of a water-based lubricant for sex, as oils can make latex split. If you want soothing and healing then you’ve come to the right place.
To these oils and butters and waxes I have carefully selected herbs that nourish, cool, heal and soothe. I spent hours pouring through monographs and ancient and modern texts, from Culpeper to Hoffmann to discover old remedies and new trials. In addition to nourishing and cooling and soothing, I selected herbs that have some aphrodisiac properties, and none that have estrogenic stimulating properties. This is because I wanted to avoid ‘feeding’ estrogen-related health issues such as some cancers.
I didn’t think that I would ever be so moved by a woman telling me that at last she was moist again, that I would cry. But cry I did. She told me that ‘Archeus was going to help a lot of women feel feminine again’.
I have loved creating something so, well, so womanly. I know that not every product is going to work for every person, but as I developed the balm, the women who tried it out thanked me. Some added that their husband or partner asked them to thank me on their behalf. And then there was the woman who told me she loved the balm but she hadn’t told her husband how good it was because she was quite happy for him to remain unaware of her reconditioned lady bits!
None of this would have happened if we had all remained too 'tabooed' to talk about it.
Menopause is not the beginning of the end. It is the beginning of a new beginning. We should celebrate it, and give thanks to nature providing us with plants that can help make the annoying bits better. With spring, with age, with beauty comes the Elder Flowering.
Oh and PS: drink more water!!! That helps everything.