A lot of changes happen when you reach the stage of life called menopause. You may discover that shifting levels of hormones — especially decreased amounts of estrogen produced by your body — bring new challenges. Vaginal atrophy is a common symptom of menopause.
The endocrine system is a network of glands and organs that produce, store, and secrete hormones. Menopause takes place gradually over four or five years. A woman may experience a number of uncomfortable symptoms during this time, including vaginal dryness.
Danielle D. Marshall, MD Dr. Cheryl Iglesia, MD Dr.
The most common symptoms of vaginal atrophy are dryness, irritation, and pain during intercourse. Although menopause is the most common cause, vaginal atrophy can result from anything that lowers estrogen production. That includes chemotherapy, radiation, removal of the ovaries during hysterectomy, and use of anti-estrogenic therapies such as aromatase inhibitors, tamoxifen Nolvadexand drugs like leuprolide Lupron and nafarelin Synarelwhich are used to treat fibroids and endometriosis.
Vaginal atrophy is a change of the vagina that develops when there is a significant decrease in levels of the female hormone estrogen. The condition also is called atrophic vaginitis. Estrogen, which is produced by the ovaries, plays a vital role in keeping vaginal tissues lubricated and healthy.
Up to 40 percent of postmenopausal women have symptoms of atrophic vaginitis. Because the condition is attributable to estrogen deficiency, it may occur in pre-menopausal women who take antiestrogenic medications or who have medical or surgical conditions that result in decreased levels of estrogen. The thinned endometrium and increased vaginal pH level induced by estrogen deficiency predispose the vagina and urinary tract to infection and mechanical weakness.
Many women experience vaginal atrophy during and after menopause. This condition, also sometimes called vulvovaginal atrophy VVAcauses vaginal:. VVA occurs when estrogen levels drop, as they do around the time a woman begins menopause. When estrogen levels fall, the symptoms of VVA may become more severe.
The Johns Hopkins Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics offers an innovative laser therapy to address the symptoms of vaginal atrophy thinning, dryness and inflammation. Vaginal atrophy can occur during perimenopause, menopause or as a result of cancer treatment. The condition causes vaginal dryness, inflammation and irritation, which can lead to painful intercourse and painful or frequent urination.