Vaginal atrophy

Vaginal atrophy, also called atrophic vaginitis, is thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to your body having less estrogen. Vaginal atrophy occurs most often after menopause, but it can also develop during breast-feeding or at any other time your body's estrogen production declines.

For many women, vaginal atrophy makes intercourse painful — and if intercourse hurts, your interest in sex will naturally decrease. In addition, healthy genital function is closely connected with healthy urinary system function.

Simple, effective treatments for vaginal atrophy are available. Reduced estrogen levels result in changes to your body, but it doesn't mean you have to live with the discomfort of vaginal atrophy.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

With moderate to severe vaginal atrophy, you may experience the following vaginal and urinary signs and symptoms:

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Vaginal burning
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Genital itching
  • Burning with urination
  • Urgency with urination
  • More urinary tract infections
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Light bleeding after intercourse
  • Discomfort with intercourse
  • Decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual activity
  • Shortening and tightening of the vaginal canal

When to see a doctor

By some estimates, nearly half of postmenopausal women experience vaginal atrophy, although few seek treatment. Many women resign themselves to the symptoms or are embarrassed to discuss them with their doctor.

Make an appointment to see your doctor if you experience painful intercourse that's not resolved by using a vaginal moisturizer (Replens, Vagisil Feminine Moisturizer, others) or water-based lubricant (glycerin-free versions of Astroglide, K-Y Intrigue, others) or if you have vaginal symptoms, such as unusual bleeding, discharge, burning or soreness.

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