Vaginal atrophy can occur when the walls of your vagina become thin, dry, and inflamed. Typically, vaginal atrophy may happen during midlife, when perimenopause and menopause cause your body to produce less estrogen.
Although vaginal atrophy is, for many women, a normal part of growing older, it can also be a big inconvenience, because it can interfere with your quality of life.
At Women’s Healthcare of Princeton in Princeton, New Jersey, Dr. Maria Sophocles and the rest of our team take vaginal atrophy seriously. We specialize in diagnosing and treating vaginal atrophy, as well as making sure our patients understand what it is, how it can impact them, and how it can be managed.
Here, we explain some of the most common signs of vaginal atrophy, and we provide some important information about what to do if you think you have it.
When vaginal tissues become inflamed as the result of vaginal atrophy, you may feel a burning or itching sensation in your vagina. This may occur randomly or at certain times, such as after sex or when you urinate.
As your vaginal tissues become thinner, you may be more prone to infections that occur when bacteria spread from your vaginal area to your urethra (which carries urine outside your body from your bladder), bladder, ureters (which carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder), and even your kidneys.
As the tissue that lines your vagina becomes thinner, blood vessels within it have less protection and may leak blood, especially when subjected to friction or pressure from sexual intercourse.
A reduction in estrogen can lead to a decrease in the production of vaginal fluids that serve as lubricants in your vagina. When your vagina is dry, sexual penetration can be more difficult and sexual intercourse may become painful. This can lead to a loss of sexual enjoyment, as well as problems between you and your partner.
If sex is uncomfortable or painful, it’s not surprising that you may have trouble reaching orgasm – a condition known as orgasmic dysfunction. Vaginal atrophy is a common cause of orgasmic dysfunction during midlife.
Women with vaginal atrophy have several treatment options. For some women, doing Kegel exercises, which increase blood flow to vaginal tissues, can make a difference. You can do Kegels by flexing the muscles you use to stop the flow of urine.
Another option is hormone therapy. Adding in estrogen can help restore flexibility and moisture to the vagina. Hormone therapy can be administered in the form of pills, creams, pellets, skin patches, or sprays.
In some cases, vaginal atrophy is addressed with MonaLisa TouchⓇ, a minimally invasive laser treatment that actually regenerates atrophied vaginal tissue. Treatment with MonaLisa Touch leads to the formation of new blood vessels and collagen, which is the protein that gives your vaginal tissue its strength and elasticity.
If you’re experiencing vaginal atrophy or any other symptoms related to the change of life, Dr. Sophocles and our team of caring providers are here to help. We can evaluate your symptoms and provide you with a personalized treatment plan tailored specifically for your needs.
Schedule your appointment by calling our office at 609-246-5541. Or you can use our convenient online booking tool right now. We offer both in-person and telehealth appointments.