Postmenopausal Atrophic Vaginitis: Causes and Facts

Postmenopausal Atrophic Vaginitis: Causes and Facts | MenopauseCoach.com

Whenever it comes to a climax, it is always followed by some symptoms and negative consequences that may greatly affect your health, beauty and general wellbeing. Atrophic vaginitis is one of them. Other names for this pathology is menopause vaginitis. It occurs during menopause when a woman experiences inevitable hormonal fluctuations in which the levels of estrogen and progesterone are extremely low, but the doses of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) show high values. How to treat it and what are the first symptoms to recognize and prevent negative effects?

Clinical Picture: What Is Postmenopausal Vaginal Atrophy?

It is an inflammation of the vagina and its mucous membrane, that is not associated with a bacterial or fungal infection. Also, vaginal atrophy is one of the most common gynecological disorders observed in menopause. This disease has a close relationship with the deficiency of sex hormones (estrogens) in a woman’s body, which occurs after menopause. 6-10 years after the cessation of menstruation, vaginitis is observed in almost half of women, and around 10-15 years later, its probability rises to 73–75%.

There are two forms of menopause vaginal atrophy: postmenopausal and the one associated with artificial climax.

What Are the Causes of Vaginal Atrophy?

Under physiological conditions, estrogens contribute to the proliferation of vaginal epithelium and the enhancement of its blood supply. The adequate level of estrogens ensures the formation of lactic acid and the maintenance of the acidic environment of the vaginal contents, which creates favorable conditions for the multiplication of “beneficial” lactobacilli and blocks the growth of pathogenic and conditionally pathogenic microorganisms.

Under the climacteric period, atrophic changes occur. They lead to a thinning of vagina epithelium and smoothing of the vaginal folds. Such atrophic changes are a background for a long chronic course of inflammatory processes known as bacterial vaginitis. Note, atrophic vaginitis is not sexually transmitted. 

Some other events when you may experience postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis are when you are on the stage of treating the pelvic area, you have an uncontrolled level of sugar, in particular, diabetes, you face severe stress or depression. And, some postmenopausal women who are crazy about exercises, and gym may experience it because of rigorous sports activity. So, make sure to give yourself some rest and do not train more than 2 hours per day, preferably a few times per week only.

In some cases, this disease may also occur in women who breastfeed or who underwent the surgical removal of the ovaries. Otherwise, doctors believe that vaginal atrophy in menopause can be caused by decreased levels of estrogen due to chemotherapy, radiation therapies, intake of medications for the treatment of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast cancer. 

Symptoms of Vaginal Atrophy in Menopause

Symptoms of postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis provoke the vaginal mucosa to become thinner, more fragile, and more adjusted to acquire an infection. Most commonly, ladies have the below-mentioned signs: 

  • Burning sensation in the vaginal environment;
  • Vaginal dryness;
  • Painful sexual intercourses;
  • Urinary problems;
  • Frequent urination;
  • Bleeding after intercourse.

The intensity of sings can vary quite widely from patient to patient. Sometimes vaginal atrophy symptoms occur so slowly that a woman does not notice them much but only after 5-10 years of the onset of menopause. They may think it is a regular ache or they connect it with other problems. Such irresponsibility may lead to the development of other diseases, especially bleeding. It can be a sign of cancer. Forehanded consultations may save a woman’s life. Moreover, vaginal atrophy in menopause can cause this painful condition: irritation or mood swings. So, it is recommended to monitor your health and address all the problems to the doctor once you reach or about to reach the first stage of the climax. 

Who Are at Risk of Postmenopausal Atrophic Vaginitis?

Surprisingly or not, this pathology is merciless toward smokers. A few studies were conducted and showed that smoking radically affects the development of vaginal atrophy before menopause. First of all, it harms the blood circulation that further does not allows tissues to receive oxygen microcirculation. As a result, it favors atrophic vaginitis. Moreover, smoking somehow affects the synthesis of estrogen. 

Thus, if you smoke, it is advisable at least to cut down the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Because climax reaches faster those ladies who are heavy smokers. 

Then, the same group of risk in postmenopausal women who give birth to the baby by cesarean section.

What Is the Treatment of Atrophic Vaginitis?

First of all, it is necessary to address all your complaints and doubts about the gynecologist. She will decide on the direction of treatment and will organize a complete medical examination and diagnostic. Today, before diagnosing atrophic vaginitis, a woman has to undergo a series of procedures. Everything starts from the gynecological examination of the vagina using designated mirrors. After, she takes vaginal smear to perform a cytological test to exclude any oncological diseases. The same, she will need smear for bacteriological studies, and if needed, after you have to cope with colposcopic tests. Finally, a doctor will check the pH of your vaginal contents.

After receiving all the results, she will send you for hormone therapy that is considered one of the most efficient ones. Atrophic vaginitis is usually subject to targeted estrogen therapy. The most recommended for these purposes are estradiol, norethindrone, esterified estrogens. Local creams and vaginal suppositories are also used. In particular, water-soluble lubricants are used to relieve pain during intercourse. Keep in mind, mineral oils or natural oils are not acceptable for applying to the itching, burning, and cracked areas. They are not considered to heal the vaginal dryness but aimed to be applied to the skin of the face and body. If you managed to apply, wash it down as far as you can deteriorate the burning sensations. And, of course, do not forget about condoms during intercourse, they together with lubricant will deprive you of discomfort. 

As usual, you can also take part in the treatment by doing your rituals. Take care of your vaginal muscles. The best option is to try Kegel exercises, to build and strengthen the muscles. To follow a healthy diet and lifestyle. As far as smoking was already discussed, if you have vaginal atrophy after menopause, do not play much with drinking alcohol as well. And, avoid stressful situations that may lead you to depression. 



 

Dr.Ruth Westheimer

An American sex therapist, media personality, author, radio, television talk show host, and Holocaust survivor.

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