What is Vaginal Atrophy?

Vaginal Atrophy, also known as atrophic vaginitis, is an infection that is caused due to inflammation of tissue in vagina resulting out of swelling and inflammation of tissue of the organ. The symptoms become prominent when the level of estrogen in the body is decreased. Various changes are prevalent when vaginal atrophy becomes persistent.

There is a thick layering in epithelium and estrogen maintains this thick layer and the levels of glycogen, which are very essential for the normal and healthy functioning of the vagina. The level of pH needs to be maintained and for that glycogen is used by Lactobacilli to maintain its proper level. When the pH level goes up the area becomes a lot more sensitive that results in burning sensation that is unbearable at times.

What is Vaginal Atrophy?

What Actually Happens When Estrogen Level Drops?

In the post-menopausal women, the level of estrogen level drops and that creates a hell of troubles, which are very necessary to overcome the vaginal atrophy problem. Estrogen helps in maintaining the vaginal pH, and the urinary tract epithelia depends upon it for its normal functioning. Maintaining the level of this hormone is very necessary so that no problem is being encountered.

What Causes Vaginal Atrophy?

A very common reason for vaginal atrophy is decrease in lubrication that results in dryness and shrinking of the tissue of vagina. The level of estrogen when decreased also leads to severe dryness problem and the medical fraternity recommends that women should use the topical estrogen otherwise the problem of dryness may result in vaginal dystrophy problems in the post-menopausal women.

Taken from a broader perspective, it is actually the result of aging that vaginal atrophy becomes more prevalent. Estrogen is very essential and when its level goes gown, vaginal dryness becomes a prominent occurrence. The absence of estrogen leads to several problems in vaginal region and there are receptors as well in vulva and vagina. These structures also show the hormonal responsiveness as well that makes it more susceptible to infections in case estrogen is decreased.

Treating vaginal atrophy involves a lot more treatment that can be imagined. When the regions are deprived of estrogen during post-partum phase or post-menopausal women then increased dryness and itching persists in vagina. When a woman is suffering from vaginal atrophy then blood flow is automatically reduced and that is the reason that an increased pain is experienced during sexual intercourse.

What actually happens is that the pH level in vagina increases and that creates an environment of the existence of colonization of bacteria that is pathogenic. This eventually results in shrinking the diameter of vagina thus resulting in related problems. This makes it necessary to take the medical aid so that no severity is later encountered.

What are the Symptoms of Vaginal Atrophy or How to Know if You Have Vaginal Atrophy?

Red flags are many so you have to be a bit specific when you are experiencing the signals that can be really problematic in the long run. If you encounter the dryness trouble in vaginal area then that may be the initiation of some serious infection. That is why you have to be very watchful when you experience any of the symptoms of vaginal atrophy that are stated as below:

  • Burning sensation
  • Vaginal dryness is a symptom of vaginal atrophy
  • Itching
  • White discharge
  • Soreness
  • Cracks
  • If you experience any pain or bleeding during and after sexual intercourse
  • A smelly infectious discharge can be a symptom of vaginal atrophy.

Overcoming vaginal atrophy can be easy if you recognize the symptoms stated above. Besides these symptoms, you have to be careful about the urinary symptoms as well that covers the following troubles:

  • Blood while passing the urine
  • Pain during urination
  • If you are getting frequently infected then this may signal for vaginal atrophy
  • The patient suffering from vaginal atrophy may experience symptoms of an increased frequency of urination.

The most common symptom of vaginal dystrophy is an increased dryness in vagina that eventually results in a painful intercourse. This may also result in getting frequent injury in vagina that leading to inflammation. The alkalinity becomes higher and smelly discharge becomes a persistent problem in vaginal atrophy. Make sure that this discharge is not mistaken for being the infection of candida because you will experience the other symptoms as well in this disease.

Symptomatic women will be those who are in their post-menopausal phase because vaginal dryness becomes more prevalent during that phase. Extra care needs to be taken when you are experiencing the dryness that is otherwise not experienced so frequently. At times the signs of are not that much visible because the onset of symptoms may be dangerous as what the patient experiences at this point of time is hot flushes.

Treatments of vaginal atrophy may be a bit problematic when these signs are not paid heed to. In fact, in case of perimenopausal women, these symptoms may occur even if they do not have the vulvovaginal atrophy signs.

The best way to recognize the symptoms of vaginal atrophy at an early stage is noting any kind of vaginal discomfort. The worst part is that it is only the one-third women who seek the medical care to recover from vaginal atrophy problem. Majority of the women experience the symptoms of vaginal atrophy anonymously but they refrain from take medical care that eventually hikes the severity of the problem leading to serious ailments.

Vaginal atrophy, If not treated in appropriate way, then severe troubles may surface therefore proper care needs to be taken when you are suffering from the symptoms.

The problems encountered may be multifarious though vaginal atrophy may not be life-threatening but it surely degrades the quality of life of the patient. The sexual life of the women suffering from vaginal atrophy almost comes to an end and in many cases it may lead to urinary tract infections. If these are left untreated then disability may be the eventual outcome. You should check the appropriate type of the treatment that is available for vaginal atrophy so that you can lead a healthy and normal life.

How is Vaginal Atrophy Diagnosed?

The doctor is going to test you for the ailment through some of the tests. In case you suffer from any kind of vaginal discharge that is smelly along with a burning or an itching sensation, then it is the time to see the doctor. Before the diagnosis begins, you health history will be taken into consideration by the doctor. The duration of the symptoms that persist also become a major factor in deciding the way you are going to be treated for vaginal atrophy.

Pelvic examination is a prerogative and vagina will be checked for any kind of redness or thinning. Urinary tract infections are also checked for and a Pap test is carried out to take the test cells from the walls of vagina or the cervix region and the results are given accordingly.

What is the Treatment for Vaginal Atrophy or How to Overcome Vaginal Atrophy?

How to overcome vaginal atrophy remains the major question for a large number of women now because of the emergence of new technologies in the medical field. Caused by the dryness, there are three types of estrogens used by women to treat this problem. Let’s check out what are they:

  • Topical Treatment for Vaginal Atrophy Using Creams: This is basically known as vaginal estrogen cream that comes with an applicator to apply the cream inside the vagina. It needs to be applied daily and the duration may be up to two to three weeks. Depending upon the reduction of the degree of the infection, its application can be reduced gradually.
  • Topical Treatment for Vaginal Atrophy Using the Rings: Known as vaginal estrogen ring, this ring can be inserted into the vagina where the estrogen is released into the vaginal tissues making it lubricated. The ring needs to be replaced after every three months for a speedy recovery.
  • Tablet to Treat Vaginal Atrophy: Estrogen tablets are very effective and are directly inserted into the vagina during the time of the treatment. As per the instructions of medical practitioner, you can use it two times a week before you are fully cured.

Treatment for Vaginal Atrophy When the Infection is Mild

When the symptoms of vaginal atrophy are not that prominent and at an initial phase then you can go for some mild treatments like using the lubricants or using the vaginal moisturizer. These mild forms of treatments help the vagina to retain the moisturizer. Apart from using the moisturizer, lubricants are also used that are better.

You can also use a water based lubricant that is really effective in treating vaginal atrophy. You can pick the product that is free from glycerin so that no irritation is suffered. It is recommended when the lubricants have the petroleum jelly then condoms may break so that needs to be avoided.

Can Non-Prescription Drugs Help Overcome Vaginal Atrophy?

Non-prescriptive vaginal atrophy treatments are very promising when the symptoms are not very much severe. For the patients with mild symptoms of vaginal atrophy, the non prescription works well in overcoming the condition. These treatments are free from any kind of hormones and are known to be safe due to lower risk of any significant side effects.

These treatments are used to relax the pelvic region muscles which become very active during sexual activity. You may also take a consultation from your doctor if you wish to.

How Does the Prescription Medicine Help in Treating Vaginal Atrophy?

For the vaginal atrophy symptoms that are moderate or severe, prescription medicines are the best way to treat vaginal atrophy. There are basically two types of estrogen available that includes systemic and topical. So have an insight into each one of it. This treatment is also called as systemic estrogen therapy and you may be prescribed the progestin to be taken with estrogen if no hysterectomy is done.

The most preferred form of the drug is progesterone that provides relief that is long-lasting as it is identical to a hormone that is produced by the body.

These medicines are applicable when you have the vaginal atrophy symptoms that are moderate to severe. There are basically two types of estrogen in the prescription form which includes the systemic and topical medicines. The topical estrogen is used on the outer surface of vagina and is seen as the most effective form of treatment from vaginal atrophy.

There are problems such as overactive bladder and urinary tract infections, the symptoms of which can be reduced by the use of these prescription drugs. Treating the patient with the prescription drugs is categorized as hormone therapy. There are many ways in which this hormone can be taken like as a tablet, spray and gel, use whatever may suit you after getting a consultation with your doctor. He may also warn you of the side effects of it.

When you are using systemic estrogen therapy as a choice for treating vaginal trophy, then inform your doctor about the medical history if you have any. Being a hormonal therapy, there may be some side effects that you doctor will inform you about. Proper diet and supplements also go a long way in making speedy recovery a possibility.

Preventing Vaginal Atrophy

Its prevention depends upon the severity of disease and it should be noted that it is not possible to prevent vaginal atrophy in all the patients. There are some steps that you can take so that you remain healthy. Prevention of vaginal atrophy relates to the ways in which the chance of its occurrence is reduced.

Using the vaginal cylinder helps a lot and proper exercise needs to be done so that the body remains strong when there are chances of infection. The self-care contributes in strengthening the immunity and your body’s self-defense mechanism in fighting from the possibilities with the ailments.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: June 22, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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