What is vaginal atrophy?
Atrophic vaginitis is a vaginal condition that causes the tissues to become dry, inflamed and thin. This can be very uncomfortable for women, especially during sexual intercourse. This condition is also referred to as vaginal atrophy.
Why does vaginal atrophy happen?Vaginal atrophy happens when a women doesn’t produce enough of the estrogen hormone. This condition mainly occurs after a woman has went through menopause (Learn More >). This can also happen to women who have had their ovaries removed by a procedure called Oophorectomy.
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What are the symptoms?Some of the symptoms include:
- Dry vagina
- Vaginal burning
- Vaginal irritation
- Pain during intercourse
- Bleeding when something touches the vagina. (ex, after intercourse)
- Vaginal discharge
- Urinary issues
- frequency in urination
- pain during urination
- blood in the urine
How is it treated?
When using estrogen to treat atrophic vaginitis, doctors recommend “vaginal estrogen.” Vaginal estrogen is any form of estrogen that goes directly into the vagina. It comes in creams, tablets, or a flexible ring. Vaginal estrogen comes in small doses that don’t increase the levels of estrogen in other parts of the body very much. Some women who take vaginal estrogen must also take another hormone, called progesterone.Estrogen also comes in higher doses in a pill that you swallow, a skin patch, or a different vaginal ring. But vaginal estrogen is better for treating symptoms of atrophic vaginitis. Besides estrogen, there are also 2 other medicines that can treat atrophic vaginitis:
- Ospemifene (brand name: Osphena) is similar to estrogen, but is not estrogen. It comes as a pill you take once a day. It can cause hot flashes.
- Prasterone, also called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), is a medicine that you put into your vagina once a day. It comes as a “suppository,” which is similar to a tablet or pill but goes directly into the vagina.
What can I do to feel better?Yes. Some women feel better if they use lubricants before sex and use a vaginal moisturizer, such as Replens or K-Y SILK-E, several times a week. Vaginal moisturizers are not the same as lubricants. They help keep the vagina moist all the time, not just during sex.
Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers do not contain any hormones and have virtually no systemic (body-wide) side effects. Possible local side effects include irritation or a burning feeling after application.
Lubricants are designed to reduce friction and discomfort from dryness during sexual intercourse. The lubricant is applied inside the vagina and/or on the partner’s penis or fingers just before sex. Products sold specifically as vaginal lubricants are more effective than lubricants that are not designed for this purpose, such as petroleum jelly. In addition, oil-based lubricants like petroleum jelly, baby oil, or mineral oil can damage latex condoms and/or diaphragms and make them less effective in preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. Lubricants that are made with water or silicones can be used with latex condoms and diaphragms. Polyurethane condoms can be used with oil-based products.
Natural lubricants, such as olive, coconut, avocado, or peanut oil, are easily available products that may be used as a lubricant with sex. However, it is important to know that, like the oil-based lubricants, natural oils are not recommended for use with latex condoms or diaphragms, as they can damage the latex. Water or silicone-based lubricants are a better choice if you use condoms or a diaphragm.
Vaginal moisturizers are formulated to allow the vaginal tissues to retain moisture more effectively. Moisturizers are applied into the vagina approximately three times weekly to allow a continuous moisturizing effect. Be sure to check the label to ensure that you are purchasing a moisturizer and not a lubricant.Hand and body lotions and moisturizers should not be used to relieve vaginal dryness since they can be irritating to the vaginal tissues.
Are there tests for vaginal atrophy?
No. There is no test. But your doctor or nurse should be able to tell if you have it by learning about your symptoms and doing an exam.(Blog Source: uptodate.com)