Dry eyes can be common as we age. The signs of dry eyes are itching, a scratchy feeling, redness, tearing, tingling, and irritation. Paradoxically, dry eyes can cause excessive tearing.
Eyelashes fall out more easily as we get older and the eyes are drier.
Eyelashes or other foreign bodies may stay in the eye and cause tearing and scratches. To remove an object safely, dampen a cotton swab with salt solution and gently dab the object. If you can’t get the object out easily, go to your health caregiver, who can do so for you.
Dry eyes will tire more easily as you read, particularly at the end of the day. Dry winter air and wind, the dry air in airplanes, and certain medications that cause dry mouth and skin may also cause or aggravate dry eyes.
Allergies and sensitivity to environmental toxins such as fumes, smoke, dust, and pollution may also irritate your eyes.
Menopause Dry Mouth and Bad Breath
Although our mouths are constantly bathed in it, we don’t even give the flow of our saliva a thought until it starts to dry up.
A common short-term consequence of anxiety (such as public speaking or going for a job interview), dry mouth is a daily occurrence for 30-50% of adults over fifty-five. We’re not sure whether aging itself is a contributing factor; we do know that a major identifiable cause is long-term use of medications and drugs of many sorts including medications used to treat depression and high blood pressure.
Another reason for dry mouth is Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder of the lubricating glands in the mouth and eyes; it affects mostly middle-aged and older women, and may also be linked with silicone breast implants.
Other causes of dry mouth are radiation therapy, alcoholism, depression, and diabetes.
A dry mouth not only is annoying, but may lead to yeast infections, tooth decay, mouth ulcers, and bad breath because saliva washes away mouth debris, plaque, sugars, and carbohydrates, and helps prevent plaque build-up. Saliva remineralizes teeth and helps combat viruses and bacteria; it makes talking, kissing, and eating comfortable and enjoyable. If you’re bothered by bad breath, dry mouth is not the only cause.
Bad odor of the mouth is also caused by digestive problems such as constipation and tooth decay, both of which afflict older people more than younger. Tooth decay is more common in older people because of gum disease, which causes loosening of teeth and more room for bacteria to enter.
Bad breath and unusual taste may also be due to bowel problems, and indigestion, yeast overgrowth, sinusitis, and tobacco use.
Menopause Vaginal Dryness
As estrogen production diminishes, sometimes dramatically as you reach menopause and continues to dwindle as you pass into the postmenopausal years. Deprived of their customary supply of estrogen, vaginal walls tend to become thin and dry. The cervix secretes less mucus and the entrance to the vagina can actually become smaller.
The blood supply to your entire genital area decreases.
All these changes explain why intercourse can become uncomfortable and sometimes painful, even if you are able to have sexual feelings and achieve a climax.
Some women are simply uncomfortable with dry, delicate tissues, which become easily irritated with or without intercourse; in some women dry vaginal tissues tend to become infected more easily with yeast and bacteria.
Some believe that, in addition, estrogen contributes significantly to sexual desire and that low estrogen would therefore also affect our sensations during intercourse in another way. That’s because being sexually aroused is a prerequisite to producing the lubrication that bathes the vagina with the fluids that make intercourse smooth. When these juices don’t flow copiously, intercourse can become painful, and achieving an orgasm is more difficult because dry stimulation of the clitoris just hurts and is less likely to produce a sexual “excitation.”
The clitoris is more likely to respond to a well-lubricated penis or finger stimulating it. The conventional treatment for a dry vagina is estrogen cream. The cream, which you apply to the vagina and vulva, is very effective in many women; you should notice a difference in 1 or 2 weeks.
Estrogen cream will help thicken your vaginal walls, and it usually solves your lubrication problem, but some women find they still need to use one of the lubricating creams or gels mentioned below. Although many women are satisfied with the results, there are a few problems with using the cream.
If you have a dry vagina, it usually indicates that you have low levels of estrogen throughout your body, including your brain and heart and not just your vagina.
Since your sexual hormones affect all of your tissues, this suggests that the health of all your tissues may be suffering as well. Some women may feel that they don’t “need” vaginal health or that estrogen cream is all they need if vaginal thinning or dryness is their main or only problem.
The estrogen in the cream is applied directly to the vagina, most of the hormone stays right there; however, some of the estrogen (about 25-50 percent) will still enter your bloodstream.
Estrogen cream is not to be used as lubrication before intercourse,
It was not designed for this and the estrogen may be absorbed into your partner’s bloodstream too. Although estrogen cream does help and seems relatively safe, for those who cannot or prefer not to use hormones, there are other alternatives to explore.
Your vagina and cervix are anatomically designed to secrete fluids. These fluids vary according to the phase of your menstrual cycle, sexual excitement, and whether or not you are pregnant.
A vaginal discharge is not necessarily a sign of illness.
However, you should be aware of any changes in your normal vaginal secretions: the amount, the consistency, color, and odor, as well as any other symptoms such as inflammation and itching. Such changes are indications that you have vaginitis, which is an overgrowth of micro-organisms.
Certain conditions can change the balance of normally present micro-organisms in the vagina and encourage the overgrowth of one type over another. Menopause is one of them; so is a weakened immune system (for example, from stress or overwork), medications that cause a hormone imbalance, use of products such as spermicidal creams and jellies that contain irritating chemicals, certain foods, and others.
There are several types of vaginitis, caused by different organisms, and characterized by a variety of symptoms.
Vaginal yeast infections are probably the most common.
They are due to the overgrowth of yeast or organism which normally exists in smaller quantities on our skin and in our intestinal tracts and vaginas. They are often triggered by an excess of sugar in the diet; in some women, even fruit or white bread can cause yeast overgrowth.
A yeast infection of the vagina is characterized by a thick whitish discharge that may look like cottage cheese; sometimes it smells like baking bread and sometimes it smells acrid. Yeast infections also can be maddeningly itchy and the external genital tissues become red and irritated.
Yeast may grow out of control after a woman has been treated with a course of antibiotics for a bacterial infection because the drugs also wipe out beneficial vaginal bacteria that kept the normally present yeast in check. Bacterial infections may be due to an overgrowth of a variety of different bacteria.
This type of vaginitis is often referred to as nonspecific vaginitis
Results in a white or yellow discharge.
Burning with urination, itching, and an odor.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted bacterial infections that you should have identified through a professional examination; they can have serious consequences if not diagnosed and treated.
Trichomonas infections involve a tiny parasitic organism and are characterized by a thin, foamy yellowish or greenish discharge that smells offensive.
Trichomonas is sometimes sexually transmitted and requires a professional examination to identify; however, it is not serious.
Noninfectious vaginitis may be due to irritation from chemicals, (such as douches or spermicide), sexual activity, or a tampon particularly if it has been inadvertently left in. Your vagina becomes red and swollen and may produce a discharge to rid your body of the irritation.