Vaginal atrophy, also called atrophic vaginitis, is an alteration that is characterized by a considerable thinning of the walls of the vagina and by a significant decrease in its lubrication, which causes great dryness in the area and, at the same time, inflammation vaginal.
Its leading cause is decreased estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. This makes it a prevalent pathology in women during menopause and can affect sexual functionality and quality of life. Therefore, you must undergo regular medical check-ups since if the proper treatment is not carried out, the symptoms can last for a long time.
If you want to know more about this alteration, FastlyHealwe offers you all the information about vaginal atrophy: causes, symptoms, and treatment.
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Causes of atrophic vaginitis
The leading cause of vaginal atrophy is a significant decrease in the levels of estrogens in the blood, that is, of female sex hormones that are mainly produced by the ovaries and, to a lesser extent, by the adrenal glands, which are They are located above the kidneys, performing the function of hormonal synthesis. However, during pregnancy, the placenta is also responsible for synthesizing estrogens.
Among the numerous functions of estrogens, those significantly favoring the thickening of the vaginal wall, providing different nutrients, and greatly facilitating vaginal lubrication stand out. This is why all disorders with decreased estrogen levels cause vaginal atrophy, such as menopause.
The vagina has many receptors for estrogens, which causes that when they decrease, the normal function of the vagina is altered. In this way, there is a thinning of the walls in it, an increase in its pH, a decrease in secretion, vaginal lubrication, and, at the same time, the blood supply to it.
Primary symptoms of vaginal atrophy
Sometimes vaginal atrophy does not produce any symptoms; However, when it is symptomatic, less vaginal lubrication can be observed, that is, dryness in the vagina, which is the most frequent sign. Many women do not have it checked when this appears, which causes the symptom to last for several years.
Pain or discomfort in the vagina while having sex is also a symptom of atrophic vaginitis. This is known as dyspareunia and can be associated with a loss of sexual interest. This condition usually affects 15% of women of childbearing age, increasing to 50% in women over 50 years.
The burning vaginal constant or urination, minor vaginal bleeding, especially after intercourse, and vaginal prolapse are other symptoms that can tell if you are suffering from vaginal atrophy. In the following article, you will find the causes and treatments for itching in the vagina.
Treatment to relieve atrophic vaginitis
Vaginal atrophy is a widespread disorder and, in many cases, difficult to prevent since it is a consequence of the natural evolution of female hormones throughout their lives. To alleviate the symptoms produced by this alteration, two treatments are divided into non-hormonal and hormonal:
- Two essential elements stand out in non-hormonal treatment for women with atrophic vaginitis, vaginal moisturizers, and lubricants. The former does not reduce the atrophy of the walls of this body area, but they improve the dryness that this pathology produces. Whereas lubricants, as an add-on to moisturizers, are used before sexual intercourse. This combined method is recommended for women with mild or moderate symptoms; However, you must consult with a specialist to provide the treatment that corresponds to your condition. In the following article, we explain how to choose a vaginal lubricant.
- On the other hand, hormonal treatment for vaginal atrophy is prescribed when the current symptomatology in the patient is moderate or severe and does not subside with non-hormonal treatment. Its administration can be at the local or systemic level. Still, the doctor generally opts for the local application of estrogens in one of its presentations, such as ointment or tablets, since a small dose is usually enough to relieve symptoms and be unlikely to cause adverse effects. While in cases of severe symptoms, the best option is systemic administration, although it is usually avoided due to the high risk of developing complications.
Performing estrogen-based hormonal treatment can have significant side effects, including uterine bleeding, so you must consult a doctor, discuss any questions you may have, and follow only the treatment indicated by the doctor.
Risk factors for vaginal atrophy
Although atrophic vaginitis is quite challenging to prevent, there are risk factors that significantly increase the likelihood that you will develop it, for example:
- Taking certain drugs that lower estrogen levels, such as those used to treat breast cancer.
- Having done radiotherapy or chemotherapy on the pelvic part.
- Having had an ovarian removal.
- Not having had a vaginal delivery.
- Using tobacco excessively.
- Having done intense and constant physical exercise.
This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to Vaginal atrophy: causes, symptoms, and treatment, we recommend that you enter our category of Female reproductive system.
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.