As a woman of any age, there are many things that can lead to vaginal burning, itching, rawness, and other forms of discomfort. Things like various products that irritate the genitals, sexually transmitted diseases, or other infections can contribute to vaginal discomfort. But if you’re experiencing some common symptoms along with recurring urinary infections, bleeding, or excessive discomfort after discourse and vaginal dryness, it may be caused by vulvovaginal atrophy.
Also called vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis, this condition is common after menopause, but it can happen at other points in your life, and understanding what causes it is important to your overall health.
Women of the Las Vegas, Nevada area dealing with vulvovaginal atrophy and other unpleasant vaginal conditions are in luck when it comes to quality care. Dr. Staci McHale and the caring staff at New Beginnings OB-GYN have years of experience helping women with their health needs.
Understanding vulvovaginal atrophy
This condition happens when the walls of your vagina become thinner and less elastic. This leads to dryness, inflammation, and other symptoms common to other conditions. But, because this condition can cause vaginal and urinary problems the term used to describe it by most doctors is genitourinary syndrome of menopause or GSM. Whether you are menopausal or not, dealing with vulvovaginal atrophy means an increased risk of other infections and urinary problems.
Causes of vulvovaginal atrophy
The primary cause of this condition is a loss of the hormone estrogen which is most common during menopause. However, estrogen can lower for a variety of reasons, including:
- Surgical menopause: when both ovaries are surgically removed
- Pelvic radiation therapy: this treatment can thin vaginal lining
- Hormonal treatments: a possible side effect of various hormonal treatments
- Medications: birth control pills or other estrogen affecting medications
Breastfeeding, chemotherapy, and all of the stages of menopause can increase the chances of this condition. Hormonal changes throughout your life will affect your chances of getting conditions like vulvovaginal atrophy, but most non-menopausal causes are likely temporary. And having it doesn’t have to affect your everyday life.
Methods of treatment
Treatment for vulvovaginal atrophy can vary depending on the cause, but many symptoms can be managed with regular sexual activity (with or without a partner) and the use of lubricants or lidocaine. Topical estrogen is a common method for menopausal women, and medications like Ospemifene and Prasterone can be used to manage the issues with painful sex. Vaginal dilators can be used to help the vaginal muscles and reverse any vaginal narrowing.
This condition can be a source of embarrassment and frustration, but it doesn’t have to be. So if you’re dealing with the symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy and need help, make an appointment with Dr. McHale and New Beginnings OB-GYN today to find relief.