Menopause can come with many unwelcome symptoms as the body undergoes this significant change. Having less estrogen in the body during menopause can cause a range of health effects – one of the most common being atrophic vaginitis. Atrophic vaginitis describes the thinning, shrinking, and drying of the vaginal tissue. In an atrophic state, the vagina can be more prone to itching, dryness, inflammation, and pain. If you’re experiencing this pelvic health problem, here’s what you need to know.
Common Causes of Atrophic Vaginitis
Atrophic vaginitis is a frequent symptom related to menopause. Up until menopause, fluids and mucus made by glands in the body keep the tissues of and around the vagina healthy. A normal level of estrogen contributes to keeping the lining of the vagina thick and elastic. During menopause, however, women lose estrogen production. This can cause problems such as atrophic vaginitis, or chronic inflammation of the vagina and urinary tract.
Lack of estrogen can lead to the loss of glands that produce mucus, as well as decreases in fat tissue in the area. The walls of the vagina can become thinner and dryer, causing atrophic vaginitis. Other than menopause, breastfeeding, removing the ovaries, and certain medications can also cause atrophic vaginitis. Anything that disrupts the flow of estrogen through the body or reduces the abilities of glands to produce mucus can cause atrophic vaginitis.
Symptoms of this condition may take months or years after the menopausal process to appear. Not all women will experience atrophic vaginitis. If you do notice dryness, itching, pain during intercourse, or other symptoms, don’t be embarrassed. Millions of women are sharing the same experience. Treatments are available if you open up to your doctor about what you’re going through.
How Can You Tell If You Have Atrophic Vaginitis?
Any undesired changes to your vagina, feminine comfort, or sexual intercourse experience is cause to visit a pelvic health expert for professional advice. You likely have a common and treatable condition or symptom that simply requires healing. You might have atrophic vaginitis if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Vaginal dryness, irritation, or itching
- Discomfort or pain during intercourse (dyspareunia)
- Vaginal irritation while sitting, wearing tight clothes, or riding a bike
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Thinning of the vagina and labia
- Thin yellow or gray discharge
- Painful urination or blood in the urine
- Urinary incontinence or increased need to urinate
Despite being a common pelvic health problem, only about 20 percent of women who experience symptoms of atrophic vaginitis seek medical treatment. Many don’t realize there are treatments available to relieve vaginal dryness, pain, or itching. As soon as you notice symptoms, see a doctor for help.
Treatments for Atrophic Vaginitis in Charlotte
At the Charlotte Center for Pelvic Health, we can recommend a few different nonsurgical treatments for atrophic vaginitis. One of the most popular is MonaLisa Touch. MonaLisa Touch treats vaginal atrophy by using a laser to create micro-lesions in the vaginal wall. This safely and painlessly restores the vaginal mucosa, helping to reduce symptoms. We can also give you information about other treatments, such as ThermiVa or Geneveve. To start a confidential conversation about your pelvic health, call us at (704) 775-8464.