(BPT) - During menopause, levels of the female sex hormone estrogen decline dramatically, and this can affect everything from your hair, heart, and bones to your skin - especially your skin down there.

While hot flashes and night sweats are the most common symptoms of menopause, over 50% of women experience vaginal thinning and dryness during or after menopause,[1] and about 90% of women who experience these symptoms don't seek medical help.[1] 'This can make sex painful, increase the risk for bladder infections and take a heavy toll on a woman's quality of life,' says Carolyn DeLucia, MD, a board-certified gynecologist specializing in intimate wellness in New York City.

What can women do for relief?

Dr. DeLucia recommends starting with lifestyle changes, like staying cool and reducing stress to manage hot flashes. 'Regular sexual activity can help prevent some of the bothersome symptoms of menopause. I also recommend using a water-soluble vaginal lubricant to help soothe mild cases during intercourse,' she says.

For years, hormone replacement therapy was considered the solution for all the physical woes that accompany menopause. This all changed when the landmark Women's Health Initiative Study[2] in 2002 showed that taking estrogen and progestin after menopause may increase a woman's risk for stroke, heart disease, blood clots, and breast cancer. Estrogen helps with menopause symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and progestin is added to protect against uterine cancer in women who still have a uterus.

Many women are reluctant to take estrogen due to a personal or family history of breast cancer or other health concerns, Dr. DeLucia explains. This has led to more of a troubleshooting approach to menopausal symptoms. For example, some topical lubricants may be used to effectively treat bothersome vaginal dryness.

'I recommend VagiVital® Aktivgel. It is a hormone-free, water-based vaginal gel that relieves and treats symptoms of vaginal atrophy such as dryness, irritation or itching, and discomfort during sex or when urinating,' says Dr. DeLucia.

VagiVital is a transparent gel that releases water over time to restore pH balance and encourage cell growth in the vaginal wall. 'When your pH level rises, skin - including skin in intimate areas - can become red, dry, and painful. When left untreated, it can affect a woman's quality of life,' she says.

According to gynecologist Dr. Rebecka Kaplan Sturk of the Karolinska Institute and Sophiahemmet University in Stockholm, Sweden, 'The VagiVital range is safe with no side effects. The products are the perfect care for women's intimate parts. The Intimate V Cleanser gently washes while maintaining pH balance, while the VagiVital Aktivgel intensively moisturizes and soothes the sensitive intimate area.'

The improvement in symptoms from VagiVital are on par with what can be seen with topical hormonal therapy. 'Women in a clinical study who applied the gel once daily for 12 weeks experienced less vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse, vaginal pain and itching, and pain during urination[3]," she shares.

The new VagiVital cleanser is totally soap- and fragrance-free and can clean, moisturize and restore the pH balance of your vagina. 'I finally have something I can offer women that doesn't come with a long list of side effects and contraindications, and that actually works,' says Dr. Kaplan Sturk.

For more information visit https://us.vagivital.com/

VagiVital is also available on Amazon - Gel and Cleanser.