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Let’s get intimate – talking vaginal atrophy and sex with Dr Nighat Arif

As women start to enter the perimenopause and menopause years our hormone levels (in particular oestrogen) start to decrease quite rapidly and can bring with it a whole host of unwanted symptoms including vaginal dryness/atrophy. This can make sex and smear tests particularly painful.

So many women find it hard to talk about and in many communities it can be a real taboo. While about 70% of women suffer from this painful symptom only 7% of us actually go and seek help with it. 

To talk about why that is and what we can do about we spoke to Dr Nighat Arif, a GP specialising in women’s health, as our first guest in our ‘Let’s Get Intimate’ series with Sylk Natural lubricant this month.

About Dr Nighat Arif

You might recognise Dr Nighat from her weekly appearances as the resident GP on BBC Breakfast and from ITV’s This Morning. She’s passionate about women’s health, especially the taboo subjects and wants to particularly open up these conversations in ethnic minority communities (she translated Jane Lewis’ (author of My Menopausal Vagina) Vaginal Dryness leaflet into Urdu for example.). Oh, and she’s also a superstar on TikTok too, bringing much-needed evidence-based awareness to all things women’s health.

Watch Dr Arif’s chat with us

In the talk we discussed:

  • What happens to our bodies when our hormone levels drop and how does this affect our vaginas and vulvas?
  • What’s the difference between vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy and how can this cause havoc on our sex life – i.e painful sex, burning or itching?
  • When should a woman seek help with these symptoms? What should we be looking out for? When might things be more serious – what are the symptoms of gynae cancer?
  • What treatment options are there for vaginal dryness and vaginal atropy? What lubricants, moisturisers and other treatment options are there?
  • How can we get better support from our GPs?
  • Why is vaginal atrophy such a taboo? What can be done to address this?

We also answered some questions from viewers about how to treat vaginal atrophy.

During the talk we also spoke about Jane Lewis’ wonderful book ‘Me and My Menopausal Vagina’ which is a must-read for anyone going through vaginal atrophy. Jane’s website features some helpful downloadable leaflets, including one that Dr Nighat translated into Urdu too.

For more books about menopause, take a look at our recommended reading list too.

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Join the rest of our ‘Let’s get intimate’ series this February.

This event is one of a series of four FREE events we are running throughout February talking about love, sex, relationships and intimacy in menopause, midlife and beyond. See all the details for all events.

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Save 30% on all Sylk Natural lubricant orders in February

‘Let’s get Intimate’ is brought to you in partnership with our sponsors Sylk Natural Lubricant.

Vaginal dryness affects most women at some stage in their lives, especially around menopause when hormones fluctuate.

Using a natural lubricant like Sylk Intimate to hydrate and soothe can make all the difference. It’s a plant and water-based, pH friendly lubricant that soothes vaginal dryness, itching and soreness. It’s also recommended by health professionals and NHS approved.

Sylk Natural is offering all Latte Loungers an exclusive 30% off during February. Simply head to Sylk.co.uk and use code LL30 at the checkout.

T&Cs: Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. Offer ends midnight on 28 February 2021.

Katie Taylor

About Katie Taylor

Katie is the CEO & Founder of The Latte Lounge. She is happily married with 4 children and 1 Cavachon!. She has worked for the past 30 years in PR, Marketing, Event Organising and Fundraising for a variety of charities and set up this platform after suffering for 4 years from debilitating peri-menopause symptoms at the age of 45. She is now passionate about helping all women in all areas of their lives, by providing them with a forum that offers support and signposting throughout midlife and beyond!