Vaginal atrophy is a condition that commonly accompanies menopause. Also known as atrophic vaginitis, vaginal atrophy is characterized by thinning, drying, and inflammation of the vaginal walls. The condition is largely caused by the natural reductions in estrogen experienced both during and after menopause. However, women of any age can develop vaginal atrophy when estrogen levels dip for various reasons. There’s no need to live with the debilitating consequences for sleep, sexual health, general happiness, and confidence created by this condition. Vaginal atrophy treatment in Los Angeles is available for women ready to take the next step. Take a look at everything you need to know if you’re living with the pain and discomfort of this condition.
SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS OF VAGINA ATROPHY
How can you know if the symptoms you’re experiencing are caused by vaginal atrophy? It’s actually quite common to confuse symptoms of vaginal atrophy with symptoms of a yeast infection. Treatments for yeast infections won’t work for vaginal atrophy because this condition is caused by a lack of estrogen instead of a fungal infection. Of course, it’s always important to rule out a yeast infection with help from a medical provider before assuming that your symptoms are caused by vaginal atrophy. Here’s a look at vaginal atrophy symptoms:
- Vaginal dryness.
- Vaginal burning.
- Burning during urination.
- A sense of urgency during urination.
- Changes in vaginal discharge.
- Genital itching
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Light bleeding after intercourse.
- Painful or uncomfortable intercourse.
- Decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual activity.
- Tightening of the vaginal canal.
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It’s not necessary to experience all symptoms to be diagnosed with vaginal atrophy. In many cases, women only experience the symptoms of burning, dryness, and itching. A pelvic exam is generally needed to confirm a diagnosis of vaginal atrophy. During your examination, your healthcare provider will be looking for signs of swelling, redness, vulvar lesions, lacerations near the vaginal opening, sparse pubic hair, narrowing of the vagina, and other telltale signs that you’re in a state of decreasing estrogen levels. Urine and fluid analysis may also be used.
VAGINAL ATROPHY TREATMENT
Many women never talk to their care providers about vaginal atrophy because they assume that nothing can be done to mitigate the age-related effects of diminishing estrogen levels. In reality, there are several treatment options available to help restore comfort and function. Speaking to your care provider as soon as you notice symptoms of vaginal atrophy is important because early treatment can prevent your vaginal atrophy from worsening. Vaginal dryness increases as the body goes without estrogen. This means that your condition is likely to get worse with time. In some cases, atrophy becomes so severe that the vaginal opening narrows dramatically. Trying to correct atrophy one significant symptoms are present can be much more challenging than treating early symptoms. Next, take a look at the three most common treatments for vaginal atrophy.
A number of different hormonal therapies are available for treating vaginal atrophy. Topical estrogen is available in creams, rings, tablets, and suppositories. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is another option. Your care provider will discuss the pros and cons of various hormonal therapies based on your age, symptoms, and health history.
Laser treatments or vaginal rejuvenation for reducing vaginal dryness are becoming increasingly popular among women seeking non-hormonal treatments for atrophy. Lasers stimulate circulation, cellular activity, and healing that help to restore vaginal tissue to original levels. This non-invasive, surgery-free option triggers vaginal tissue’s self-healing, self-restorative properties.
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Lifestyle changes shouldn’t be underestimated when talking about vaginal atrophy treatment options. There are many things women can do to reverse vaginal atrophy symptoms without medical intervention. Here are some tips:
- Kegel exercises performed on a regular basis can help to prevent the thinning and shrinking of vaginal tissue. Kegels can be especially effective for women suffering from urinary symptoms associated with the condition. These simple exercises involve repetitive tightening and loosening of pelvic floor muscles.
- Frequent sex can help to prevent vaginal atrophy. Regular sexual activity helps to keep vaginal tissue healthy by increasing blood flow to the vagina.
- Quitting smoking can help to resolve vaginal atrophy. Cigarette smoking restricts blood circulation to the vagina. In addition, smoking reduces the effects of the body’s estrogen levels.
- Regular exercise can be helpful for keeping blood flow in the genital area high.
If you’re struggling with symptoms of vaginal atrophy, reach out to the offices of Dr. Tahery to learn about vaginal atrophy treatment options that can help you feel like yourself again. Located in Los Angeles, Dr. Michael Tahery is a board-certified OB/GYN and female hormone specialist offering patients more than two decades of experience. Our office can address your unique needs to help you develop a vaginal atrophy treatment plan that allows you to live without pain and discomfort. Call today to schedule an appointment!