When estrogen levels in the female body drop, an unpleasant condition called vaginal atrophy can develop. Women experiencing this problem will notice thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls. Although it may not sound serious, everyday activities like sex and going to the bathroom can become uncomfortable or even painful when the vaginal walls are inflamed. For this reason, you should treat this condition as soon as possible.
Vaginal atrophy symptoms
Most of the symptoms of vaginal atrophy are different forms of irritation experienced by the vagina and its surrounding parts. Vaginal dryness is common and can contribute to discomfort during intercourse as well as light spotting afterwards. Urination can become more urgent. Many women with this condition experience burning during urination too. A burning or itching sensation of the vagina itself can be expected. The size and the shape of the vagina may seem to change slightly. While most of these symptoms cause no long term problems when untreated, you’ll be a lot happier when the irritation has been soothed.
The most typical reason women experience vaginal atrophy is menopause. Menopause creates a natural decrease in estrogen levels. The symptoms may be noticeable in perimenopause (the period before menopause lasting a few years) or may not show up until you’ve already been in menopause for some time. Other factors that can lead to a drop in estrogen levels are breastfeeding, the removal of the ovaries by surgery, and certain cancer treatments. Not all women are affected by inflammation and thinning of the vaginal walls during menopause. However, the risk is greater in those who smoke cigarettes.
There are two main physical concerns if this problem isn’t dealt with. The first is an increased risk of vaginal infections. Since vaginal atrophy affects conditions inside the vagina it can make you more susceptible to bacterial and yeast infections. Changes in the urinary system can also be an issue. Women with atrophic vaginal changes may be more likely to get urinary tract infections or experience incontinence. To treat the atrophy, doctors can prescribe an estrogen supplement that should restore conditions to normal. If the condition is mild, a simple vaginal moisturizing or lubricant for intercourse can help greatly.
Preventing vaginal atrophy
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent vaginal atrophy since it is all dependent on your hormones. Regular sexual activity seems to help by increasing blood flow to the area. Eating well and drinking enough water are other ways to promote good vaginal health overall.