Exploring the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments of Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal atrophy also referred to as atrophic vaginitis, is a sexual health problem that occurs in response to changing hormone levels. This condition is characterized by the thinning and drying out of the vaginal walls. These vaginal walls also become inflamed. If you suspect you may be suffering from this type of sexual dysfunction, consider requesting a referral to a urologist.
Women with vaginal atrophy typically experience symptoms such as painful sexual intercourse, reduced vaginal lubrication, and light bleeding following sexual intercourse. Some women may also notice genital itching, unusual vaginal discharge, vaginal dryness and burning, and more frequent urinary tract infections. Urinary symptoms of vaginal atrophy can include frequent and urgent urination, burning with urination, and urinary incontinence.
The vaginal tissues need a steady supply of estrogen, a hormone, to keep the vaginal walls elastic and robust. Vaginal atrophy occurs when the body no longer produces enough estrogen. This change is associated with menopause, although women may also suffer from vaginal atrophy because of breastfeeding. Other possible causes include pelvic radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgical menopause, and hormonal treatment for breast cancer. Some factors may increase the risk that a woman will develop vaginal atrophy. These include the lack of sexual activity since sexual activity increases blood flow to the area and encourages elasticity of the vaginal tissues. Smoking can also increase the risk, as can never have given birth vaginally.
Women with mild vaginal atrophy may benefit from the application of certain products designed to restore vaginal lubrication. Other women might consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Some urology centers may offer advanced technology to treat vaginal atrophy, such as the MonaLisa Touch laser therapy system. Many women undergoing laser therapy enjoy significant improvements in their symptoms in just three short sessions.
The Women’s Institute for Sexual Health (WISH) at Urology Associates, P.C. provides confidential, sensitive care to women with sexual dysfunction in Tennessee. Our providers rely on the latest research and medical technology to diagnose and treat sexual health issues for women. Call us at 888-656-0667 to request a confidential consultation.