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Vaginal Atrophy During Menopause

From the Menopause and Hormones Articles List

Vaginal Atrophy after HysterectomyI have been told I have vaginal atrophy. What do I need to know about this condition and how do I treat it?

Vaginal atrophy, also known as atrophic vaginitis, is thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls because of a lack of adequate estrogen. This condition can be very painful and uncomfortable. You will need to work with your physician to find the right treatment plan for you.

Adequate estrogen is required for a healthy vagina. Without it, the vaginal walls can become fragile—they lose their moisture and elasticity, and also become thinner. As a result, the tissues can easily tear and bleed, which may lead to pain and infection. You can also experience burning and itching.

Vaginal atrophy can also affect your urinary system. As a result of vaginal atrophy, you may experience burning and urgency with urination. You could also experience more urinary tract infections (UTI) and urinary incontinence.

Additionally, vaginal atrophy can also affect intimacy. During intercourse, you could experience pain, discomfort, and light bleeding. You may find you have less vaginal lubrication along with a shortening and/or tightening of the vagina. When intercourse if painful and uncomfortable, libido tends to decrease.

Vaginal atrophy may also make other activities painful. Biking, walking, and running may increase symptoms. Even sitting can be painful with vaginal atrophy.

If vaginal atrophy has not progressed too far and symptoms are mild, vaginal moisturizers or lubricants may be beneficial for relieving symptoms. If these over the counter products do not help, estrogen products may be necessary. Often, estrogen will be prescribed in a form you can use vaginally directly on the affected tissue. If you are also experiencing other menopause related symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a more systemic estrogen therapy. If there is an infection, you may also need an antibiotic.

If you are a smoker, consider quitting. Besides it being a risk factor for vaginal atrophy, it could also cancel out any benefits of prescribed estrogen to treat your condition.

If tolerable, sexual activity may help. For one, it can increase blood flow to the area. Additionally, vaginal lubrication that occurs with arousal could moisten the affected tissues. Avoiding intercourse may actually worsen vaginal atrophy and lead to vaginal shrinking and shortening.

It is important to keep a detailed symptom diary that you can share with your medical team. Be sure to share all of your symptoms with your doctor, and also discuss any other menopausal symptoms you are experiencing. This will help ensure you use the right treatment for you.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

08-25-2013 - 05:08 PM


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