What is Vaginal Atrophy?
Vaginal atrophy, or atrophic vaginitis, is the thinning, drying and inflammation of the vagina.
What are the Symptoms of Vaginal Atrophy?
Symptoms of vaginal atrophy include vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, vaginal itching and burning, recurrent urinary tract infections and incontinence.
What Causes Vaginal Atrophy?
Vaginal atrophy is caused by a drop in estrogen levels.
What Causes a Reduction in Estrogen?
A reduction is estrogen can be caused by menopause, a hysterectomy, chemotherapy, breast cancer drugs, and radiation treatments.
Other Risk Factors for Vaginal Atrophy
Other risk factors that could contribute to vaginal atrophy are smoking, lack of sexual activity, and not having vaginal births.
Vaginal Atrophy Treatments
Vaginal atrophy can be treated with both hormonal and non-hormonal methods, these include the MonaLisa Touch Laser, moisturizers and lubricants, platelet-rich plasma and estrogen therapies.
Non-Hormonal Vaginal Atrophy Treatments
Non-hormonal vaginal atrophy treatments are the first line of treatment due to the side-effects of hormones.
The MonaLisa Touch is a non-surgical & painless laser that stimulates the production of new vaginal tissue increasing vaginal laxity and hydration.
Vaginal moisturizers can temporarily restore moisture to the vagina, reducing dryness and irritation. They usually must be applied every two to three days.
Water based lubricants can help reduce pain during intercourse.
The O-Shot is an injection that uses a woman's platelet-rich plasma to promote the growth of vaginal tissue. This treatment can also help reduce incontinence.
Hormonal Vaginal Atrophy Treatments
Hormonal treatments raise the level of estrogen in the body and may reduce the severity of vaginal atrophy. These treatments include topical and oral estrogen therapies and bioidentical hormone therapy. These treatments are not recommended for women who have suffered from breast cancer.
Topical Vaginal Estrogen
Topical estrogen treatments use lower doses of estrogen and can provide more direct relief for certain vaginal atrophy symptoms. Topical treatment options include vaginal estrogen creams, rings and intervaginal tablets.
Oral Estrogen Therapy
Estrogen pills may be prescribed if your vaginal atrophy is caused by menopause and you have not suffered from breast cancer.
If you still have your uterus, oral progesterone will be prescribed along with your estrogen therapy to reduce the risk of cancer.
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
Bioidentical hormones are hormones that have the same molecular structure as your existing hormones and carry less risk than synthetic hormones in treating low estrogen levels that cause vaginal atrophy.
Alternative Remedies for Vaginal Atrophy
Herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA and may interact with other medications. Consult with your physician before taking any over the counter supplements.
Home Therapies for Vaginal Atrophy
There are certain things that you can do at home to reduce the irritation of vaginal atrophy, including making sure you are properly aroused before sexual activity and using lubricants and moisturizers. However, you should consult with your doctor about courses of treatment that can more permanently reduce symptoms of vaginal atrophy.
Can Vaginal Atrophy be Prevented?
Vaginal atrophy is caused by a reduction in estrogen levels, which can be a normal part of aging. While this cannot be prevented, symptoms can be managed.
What Kind of Doctor Treats Vaginal Atrophy?
Vaginal atrophy should be treated by a doctor trained in women's sexual health.