Vaginal atrophy, also known as atrophic vaginitis, is a common but often overlooked condition that many women experience as they age. It occurs when the vaginal walls become thin, dry, and less elastic, leading to a range of uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms. While it’s a natural part of the aging process, vaginal atrophy can significantly affect a woman’s quality of life and intimate well-being.
However, there are various treatment options available to address vaginal atrophy and its associated symptoms. From lifestyle changes and home remedies to medical treatments and therapies, women have a range of choices to consider. This blog explains in detail about vaginal atrophy, exploring its causes, symptoms, and most importantly, the possibilities for reversing or managing this condition.
What are the symptoms of vaginal atrophy?
A person with vaginal atrophy may experience the following symptoms including:
Burning or discomfort
Changes in vaginal pH
Also Read: 13 Creams for Vaginal Itching
Is reversing vaginal atrophy possible?
Yes, it can be reversed as some latest improvement in the treatment or can effectively manage and, to a certain extent, reverse these symptoms.
Hormone therapy, like estrogen replacement, has been found to be quite effective. Studies show that estrogen treatments can help thicken the vaginal walls, improve moisture, and reduce symptoms significantly.
In addition to hormone therapy, there are non-hormonal treatments, such as vaginal moisturizers and lubricants, that can offer relief.
This necessitates regular application, and the benefits of a moisturizer are longer-lasting than those of a lubricant.
Regular sexual activity or the use of vaginal dilators can also help maintain vaginal health.
While complete reversal of vaginal atrophy may not always be possible, these treatments can make a substantial difference in managing the symptoms and improving overall comfort.
What methods are used to reverse vaginal atrophy?
There are several methods used to address and manage vaginal atrophy, which can help reduce its symptoms. These methods include:
1. Hormone Therapy
Estrogen-based treatments for vaginal atrophy, such as vaginal estrogen creams, tablets, or rings, can effectively relieve symptoms by restoring vaginal tissue health. These are available by prescription and work to reverse some of the effects of vaginal atrophy. Vaginal estrogen therapy comes in a variety of forms, and you and your healthcare practitioner can decide which is best for you. Additionally, there are many foods to improve estrogen levels in the body.
2. Vaginal estrogen cream (Estrace, Premarin)
Use an applicator to apply this cream directly into your vagina before bedtime. Most women use it daily for one to three weeks, then once or twice a week after that, but your healthcare professional will give you precise instructions. The estrogen for vaginal dryness showed an effective results in women’s life.
Imvexxy vaginal estrogen suppositories
These low-dose estrogen suppositories are put about 2 inches into the vaginal canal daily for several weeks, then only twice a week.
3. Estring (Femring)
A soft, flexible ring is put into the upper region of the vagina, providing a steady amount of estrogen while in place and requiring replacement every three months. This alternative is appealing to many women. A separate, higher-dose ring is considered a systemic rather than a topical treatment.
A study showed that Femring had shown an enormous improvement in the quality of life of women who were suffering from UTI and incontinence.
4. Vaginal estrogen tablet (Vagifem)
Using a disposable applicator, apply a vaginal estrogen tablet in your vagina as directed by your healthcare professional. Ospemifene (Osphena) is a daily medication that can help relieve uncomfortable sex symptoms in women with PCOS.
5. Ospemifene (Osphena)
This is a daily medication that can help relieve uncomfortable intercourse symptoms in women suffering from mild to severe genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). It is not recommended for women who have a history of breast cancer or are at high risk of acquiring it.
6. Prasterone (Intrarosa)
It is a vaginal insert that delivers the hormone DHEA directly associated with the vagina to alleviate painful intercourse. DHEA is a hormone that helps other hormones, notably estrogen, to be produced. Prasterone is used on a nightly basis to treat moderate to severe vaginal atrophy.
7. Systemic estrogen replacement treatment
If your vaginal dryness is accompanied by additional menopausal symptoms, such as average or severe hot flashes, your doctor may prescribe estrogen pills, patches, gel, or a higher-dose estrogen ring. Because oral estrogen reaches your complete system, it’s dangerous.
8. Non-hormonal moisturizers and Lubricants
Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers and lubricants can provide temporary relief from vaginal dryness and discomfort during sexual activity. They do not contain hormones and are available without a prescription. Some of the treatments for vaginal atrophy include non-hormonal moisturizers and lubricants, such as Lidocaine. Lidocaine lasts for almost 90 minutes which alleviates your symptoms.
Non-hormonal vaginal dilators activate and lengthen the vaginal muscles, reversing vaginal constriction estrogen in the vaginal cavity.
9. Regular Sexual Activity
Engaging in sexual activity or other forms of vaginal stimulation can help maintain vaginal health and elasticity. This can also reduce discomfort and improve overall vaginal function.
10. Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, like Kegels, can help improve vaginal muscle tone and overall vaginal health. Doctors often suggest various pelvic floor exercises to help with this, but if a patient doesn’t find relief with these exercises, medical treatment may be recommended.
Because oral estrogen reaches your complete system, it’s critical to discuss the dangers and advantages with your doctor, especially if you’re taking another hormone called progestin alongside estrogen.
Vaginal atrophy is a condition where the vagina gets thinner, drier, and inflamed because there’s less estrogen in the body. But don’t worry; it can be managed and even reversed with different treatments. These treatments include using estrogen in creams or pills, using things like moisturizers and lubricants, and sometimes special medications.
If you’ve had breast cancer before, the doctor thinks carefully about what treatment is best for you. With the help of doctors, women with vaginal atrophy can feel better and have a better life.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for estradiol to work?
It takes 3-6 months to show full impact.
What causes vaginal atrophy?
Vaginal atrophy is mainly caused by a decrease in the hormone estrogen, which happens naturally as women age.
What are the most prevalent signs of vaginal atrophy?
Common symptoms include vaginal dryness, itching, burning, pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), and an increased risk of vaginal infections. I was having urinary tract infections and urinary urgency.
Who is at risk for developing vaginal atrophy?
Postmenopausal women are at the highest risk for vaginal atrophy. Still, it can also affect women who have experienced a decrease in estrogen levels due to factors like cancer treatments, breastfeeding, or certain medical conditions.
Can vaginal atrophy be prevented?
Although you can’t always stop it from happening, having regular sex and using moisturizers or lubricants during sex can lower the chances of getting symptoms. Sometimes, doctors might also think about hormone replacement therapy to prevent it.
How is vaginal atrophy diagnosed?
A healthcare provider can examine if a woman has vaginal atrophy by asking her about her symptoms and doing a pelvic exam. Sometimes, they might also do extra tests to make sure it’s not some other problem.
Can I cure vaginal atrophy?
Many people ask “how to treat vaginal atrophy”. You can prevent it by utilizing different methods like lubricants, moisturizers, and hormonal therapy.
What are the side effects of vaginal estrogen?
2. Sudden vaginal bleeding
3. Vaginal discomfort
4. Urinary tract infection