Vaginal Atrophy: What it is, Symptoms and Treatment

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This problem is typical of menopausal women, but it can occur due to other factors. Know what they are

Any woman is subject to vaginal atrophy, which is also known as atrophic vaginitis or, popularly, as a depressed vagina. This syndrome occurs when estrogen production decreases considerably, leaving the vagina dry, receding and causing inflammation and infection. Look at the symptoms, causes and treatment of this problem.

What are the main symptoms?

Along with vaginal dryness, there is an alteration in the pH of the genital region, leaving it more acidic and prone to inflammation in the internal walls of the vagina, in addition to other unpleasant symptoms that make women distrust the problem. These are:

1. Burning or vaginal irritation

This symptom is a consequence of the fragility to which the internal region of the vagina is exposed, with inflammation or infection. Then, burning and irritation when urinating or having sex can happen.

2. Drip and itching

These symptoms are also due to an infection or inflammation that can occur because the problem ends up leaving the inner region of the vagina very acid and exposed to various ailments.

3. Urinary infection

Urinary tract infection, including the urgent need to urinate, is another symptom that is not always related to this problem. However, you should be suspicious if other symptoms occur at the same time. It can also occur due to the change in vaginal pH.

4. Pain or discomfort during sex

Because of the other symptoms, it is natural for the woman to end up feeling pain during sexual intercourse. Although I use lubricating gel, the pain may remain due to inflammation. There may even be bleeding after sex.

What are the causes?

Although the main cause of vaginal atrophy is a reduction in estrogen production, this may be due to different causes. These are:

  • Menopause (pre and post);
  • After radiotherapy treatment of the pelvis;
  • Breastfeeding period;
  • After chemotherapy treatment;
  • After surgery to remove the ovaries;
  • During hormonal treatment of breast cancer.

All of these factors can decrease estrogen production in a woman’s body. One of the side effects is dryness and inflammation of the vagina, which results in atrophic vaginitis.

Other factors that may contribute, but are not the main ones, are smoking, lack of normal delivery and lack of sexual activity for a long period.

How to deal with the problem?

Once you notice the symptoms, the first thing you should do is go to the gynecologist. When you go to the doctor, he will ask you some questions to make sure of the symptoms. You will also have a pelvic exam, such as the routine test performed in the gynecology office.

It is also necessary to do a urine test and an acid balance test, collecting vaginal fluids for laboratory tests.

Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, your doctor may recommend some palliative treatments or remedies, depending on your case.

Does vaginal atrophy have a cure?

It can be said that atrophic vaginitis has control because, as you will see, there are treatments to increase the production of estrogens that cause all symptoms. However, since such production needs to be stimulated, the woman needs to maintain the treatment. Therefore, there is no cure without prolonged use of the alternatives you will see, below.

How is the treatment done?

For example, for women who are with menopause, one of the most common ways to deal with this and all other symptoms of this stage of life is through hormonal replacement.

This usually helps a lot to return the lubrication naturally to the vagina and eliminate atrophic vaginitis by increasing estrogen production.

But because hormonal replacement is not always possible, your doctor may recommend the use of estrogen creams for local application or specific lubricating gels to help improve sexual intercourse, in case this is the most uncomfortable symptom.

There are also water-based moisturizers specially prescribed by a doctor that are recommended for regular use and to maintain vaginal lubrication. These help reduce heartburn and, therefore, symptoms.

Even a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information confirmed after evaluating 4,162 women with vaginal atrophy that estrogen-based creams and gels gave considerable results in reducing symptoms. Therefore, this type of treatment is considered the most effective way to keep the woman healthier and thus help restore her well-being.

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