Estrogen is the main female hormone, responsible for all reproductive functions. Menopause is due to estrogen deficiency. This deficiency brings about a lot of changes in sexual organs. Vaginal tissues become thinner and lubrication decreases, thus making intercourse painful.
Is menopause responsible for atrophic changes affecting sexual organs?
Estrogen deficiency as a result of menopause leads to atrophic changes and reduced blood flow in the genital tract and urethra. This relative ischaemia is related to the atrophic changes, which occur in the genital tract such as thin skin, sparse hair, and vagina shortening and diminished vaginal and cervical secretion. The consequences of these changes are increasing dyspareunia and apareunia, genital tract trauma, loss of libido, voiding difficulties, painful urination, increased urinary frequency, urgency and incontinence.
How can I combat vaginal infections resulting from menopause?
Vaginal tissues become thinner with menopause and therefore become more susceptible to irritation and infections. Vaginal lubrication could also decrease considerably, making quite painful. In this case, the use of water-soluble vaginal lubricants could help mitigate this problem. Estrogen treatment (through Hormone Replacement Therapy) could also reverse vaginal atrophy.
What is vulvovaginal atrophy?
The condition called vulvovaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis or urogenital atrophy can be caused during the menopause period. During this period the tissues of vulva (outer part of vagina) become inflexible, dry and thin. This condition is known as vulvovaginal atrophy. This condition is mainly caused due to low level of estrogen. Reduced estrogen levels result in decrease in the vaginal secretions causing this condition. This drop in the level of estrogen may also result in the locations in the pH balance of vagina and making it less acidic. Due to these changes the vagina may become just as it used to be before puberty.
Symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy
Let us take a look at some of the common symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis or urogenital atrophy experienced in vaginal area.
Leakage of urine
pain during intercourse
burning sensation while urinating
absence of lubrication during intercourse
Changes in the vaginal canal
When such symptoms are observed, you must consult your doctor without any hesitation. Vulvovaginal atrophy is not only caused due to menopause but also due to other issues. It can be caused due to the removal of ovaries, radiation or chemotherapy for cancer. It can also be caused as a result of the side-effect caused due the hormonal treatment for breast cancer. Decreased level of estrogen due to breastfeeding may also result in atrophic vaginitis or urogenital atrophy. It can also be a result of consumption of medications that may cause estrogen levels to drop.
There are several ways in which vulvovaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis or urogenital atrophy can be prevented. Lubricating vagina is one of the common ways to deal with the symptoms. Another ways include using vaginal tablets or cream which help to administer estrogens through vagina and which can help to prevent the symptoms from becoming severe. However, these vaginal tables may not be suitable for all women. Therefore, it is a must to ask your doctor to prescribe such tablets or lubricant for you and avoid using any over-the-counter remedies.
Most of the women feel shy to discuss these problems with the doctor as these disorders are related to menopause and reducing sexuality. In fact, regular sexual activity is said to improve these condition. Therefore, there is no need to worry and whatever problems are faced should be brought to the notice of doctor in order to prevent it from becoming worse.
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- The Indiaparenting Team