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Vaginal Atrophy

Vaginal atrophy is a condition that affects women who attain menopause. Also, called as atrophic vaginitis, this condition causes a lot of pain and inflammation within the vagina.

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Overview of Vaginal atrophy

The thinning and inflammation of the vaginal tissues as well as the outer urinary tract organs is called as vaginal atrophy. This condition occurs due to the decrease in estrogen levels within the body. It is very common in women who are in their perimenopausal stage as well as those who have attained menopause.

Under normal circumstances the vagina and surrounding tissues are well-lubricated and moist. This occurs due to the release of estrogen hormone. The tissues, thus remain thick and supple. Also, estrogen leads to production of glycogen from the vaginal cells. Thus, helping in maintaining the useful bacteria flora of the vagina.

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Causes of Vaginal atrophy

Vaginal atrophy is a chronic condition that affects menopausal women.

Other causes of atrophic vaginitis include:

  • Women who have undergone surgical removal of the ovaries, that causes decrease in levels of estrogen
  • Women who have undergone normal child delivery
  • Breastfeeding women
  • Women who are taking medications for treatment of fibroids, endometriosis, infertility and cancer of the breasts
  • Treatment for cervical and other reproductive organ cancers like chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Symptoms of Vaginal atrophy

The symptoms of vaginal atrophy include:

  • Dryness in and around the vagina
  • Burning sensation
  • Watery discharge
  • Urination accompanied with burning
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Painful intercourse
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Urinary urgency
  • Sores and cracks on the skin around the vagina
  • Increase in frequency of urinary infections

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Diagnosis of Vaginal atrophy

A urine test, pelvic examination and a PAP smear will help in detecting vaginal atrophy.

Treatment of Vaginal atrophy

Treatment for estrogen deficiency is treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This helps in overcoming certain symptoms like lack of lubrication, inflammation and tightness around the vagina. Creams, tablets as well as vaginal rings are recommended for HRT.

Those who do not wish to opt for HR, can try using moisturizers and vaginal lubricating creams that keep the vaginal skin moist. Urinary tract infections are treated with the help of antibiotics. Those having pain during intercourse are suggested lubricants that help overcome the dryness and inflammation of the vaginal tract.

Prognosis of Vaginal atrophy

With treatment, the symptoms will reduce in severity and help one overcome the irritation to a certain extent.

Regular sexual activity will help in increasing the blood supply to the vagina. Also, one should use lubricants and creams to overcome the dryness. Vaginal atrophy and its symptoms can be controlled with proper care and treatment.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta

Date last updated: February 25, 2015