Vaginal atrophy, also known as vulvo-vaginal atrophy (VVA) or atrophic vaginitis, relates to the thinning and drying of the vaginal walls. It is a condition which affects many women, particularly after menopause, removal of both ovaries (surgical menopause), or following chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormonal treatments for breast cancer.
Vaginal atrophy occurs due to a woman’s body failing to produce enough oestrogen. It is for this reason that many women are affected by it following menopause, when the cells in the vagina are most lacking in hydration.
It is estimated that almost half of post-menopausal women experience vaginal atrophy, however the condition is not widely discussed and as such, few seek treatment. Many woman believe it is normal consequence of menopause and resign themselves to suffering in silence. A diagnosis can be made simply by examination of the vaginal area by a GP or gynaecologist and several treatment options exist.
Symptoms of Vaginal Atrophy
- Vaginal dryness
- Redness and itching of the genitalia
- Burning sensation in the vagina
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Urgency with urination
- Frequent water infections, or urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Bleeding or discomfort after intercourse
- Urinary incontinence
- Decreased lubrication during sexual activity
- Tightening and shortening of vaginal canal
Causes of Vaginal Atrophy
- The years leading up to menopause
- Pelvic radiotherapy
- Hormonal cancer treatments
- Removal of both ovaries (surgical menopause)
Not all cases of vaginal dryness need medical attention, however it is wise to see a GP or gynaecologist when self-help methods, such as lubricants or vaginal moisturisers, are not effective, or when symptoms are severe and therefore affecting your everyday life.
Several simple and effective treatments exist, meaning you no longer need to live with this discomfort. The MonaLisa Touch® is the latest treatment option, which involves laser therapy and is quick and pain-free. Click here for more information on the range treatment options for vaginal atrophy.