Think you may have vaginal atrophy? Keep reading to better understand the symptoms and your treatment options.
Our vaginas are incredible, pleasure-giving, human-birthing organs. But, as we ride the hormonal tides of womanhood, we can be left thinking “What the f*** is going on down there?!”
Vaginal atrophy is a common symptom encountered by many women, especially those who have gone through menopause. If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms down below, keep reading to find out exactly what vaginal atrophy is, what the symptoms are and how to treat it.
What is vaginal atrophy?
Vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) is when the walls of the vagina become dryer, thinner and more inflamed. This is often due to your body’s oestrogen levels dropping, such as during and after menopause.
Vaginal atrophy symptoms
Vaginal atrophy may make sex feel uncomfortable, but you may also notice discomfort when urinating. Other vaginal atrophy symptoms may include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Burning sensation in the vagina, especially when urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Changes to vaginal discharge - discharge may become thin and watery and yellow or grey in colour
- Itching sensation in your genitals
- Urgency needing the toilet or incontinence
- More frequent urinary tract infections
- Light bleeding present after having sex
- Decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual intercourse
- Shortening and tightening of the vaginal canal
Vaginal Atrophy Treatment
There are several different options for vaginal atrophy treatment, which you can choose from, to suit your preferences and needs.
While we believe that a lot can be achieved with natural treatments, we want all women to know their options. Information is power, and you may find a medical treatment that works for you. Speak to your doctor if you’d like to explore your options for medical treatment.
As vaginal atrophy is often a result of low oestrogen levels, there are a range of treatments which involve synthetic oestrogen to supplement your natural levels.
- Vaginal oestrogen cream, which is inserted into the vagina with an applicator, usually before bed.
- Vaginal oestrogen suppositories, which you insert daily for a few weeks, then once every few weeks thereafter.
- Vaginal oestrogen ring, inserted by you or your doctor. This offers a consistent supply of oestrogen to your vagina. The ring needs replacing about once every three months.
- Vaginal oestrogen tablet, inserted into your vagina with an applicator. Your doctor will advise you on how frequently to use this treatment.
Vagina Victory Oil
While these treatments can help soothe the internal discomfort caused by atrophy, you may also experience external dryness. This natural, fragrance free oil offers relief from itching or dryness down below. Apply daily, or as needed, when you need that moment of relief. Click here for more information on VVO.
Having sex with vaginal atrophy
Lady, you deserve good sex, and vaginal atrophy doesn’t have to be an obstacle to a healthy sex life. If sex is becoming uncomfortable due to vaginal dryness, opt for a water-based lubricant which is free of chemical irritants to help your sexy time go more smoothly. Avoid petroleum jelly (uh hello, our vaginas aren’t engines) and oil-based lubricants if you’re using condoms, as these substances can compromise condoms’ efficiency.
You should also let your partner know if anything is uncomfortable or not pleasurable - just because something once felt good, it doesn't mean it always will as your body evolves. Explore with an open mind while practicing self-kindness.
Can vaginal atrophy cause bleeding?
Bleeding can be a symptom of vaginal atrophy. There are several other causes of bleeding in post-menopausal women, including:
- cervical or womb polyps (growths that are usually non-cancerous)
- a thickened womb lining (endometrial hyperplasia) – this can be caused by hormone replacement therapy (HRT), high levels of oestrogen or being overweight, and can lead to womb cancer
Less commonly, postmenopausal bleeding is caused by cancer, such as ovarian and womb cancer.
If you are noticing unusual bleeding, you should see your doctor to find out exactly what's causing it.