Atrophy is a term that means wasting away or diminishing. Most tissues in the body can experience atrophy, including the vaginal walls. This is especially common in older women who are either approaching or experiencing menopause. How can you tell if you have vaginal atrophy, and if you do develop it, what can be done to treat it? Take a look.
Signs of Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal atrophy is basically a thinning of the vaginal walls. However, you likely won't notice that your vaginal walls are thinning. What you will notice is less specific symptoms, the most obvious of which is usually vaginal dryness. You may notice that you need to use artificial lubrication in order to have intercourse comfortably, or you may notice that you experience too much pain and friction with intercourse.
Another sign of vaginal atrophy is itchiness in and around the vaginal area. You may also have some burning, especially after intercourse or after urination. Some women find that their vagina feels shorter, narrower, or smaller when they begin experiencing vaginal atrophy.
How Vaginal Atrophy Is Treated
If you think you have vaginal atrophy, you should schedule an appointment with your OBGYN. They can usually diagnose the condition simply by discussing your symptoms and completing a brief exam. If your OBGYN agrees you have vaginal atrophy, there are a few things they can recommend.
First, your doctor will probably prescribe an estrogen cream. Most cases of vaginal atrophy are caused, at least in part, by low estrogen levels. Applying this cream to your vaginal area once a day can help thicken your vaginal walls over time, alleviating the symptoms you've been experiencing. Lately, some doctors have been prescribing a vaginal estrogen ring insert instead of estrogen creams. This ring insert releases estrogen into the vaginal canal and needs to be replaced every three months.
Your doctor may also recommend some lifestyle changes to help further ease your symptoms. If you smoke, they'll advise that you stop, since smoking tends to make vaginal atrophy a lot worse. They may recommend using lubricant during sex and throughout the day if your vagina feels dry or irritated. They may also recommend a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, which come from foods like salmon and flax seed.
Vaginal atrophy is quite common, especially in older women. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Having a discussion with your OBGYN can open the door to effective treatment options.
Do you know when your daughter needs to be introduced to the OBGYN? Discussions such as this can be difficult for both parent and daughter, but it can be ever so more difficult for the single father. A single father raising a teenage daughter comes with many complications. Teenage girls can be a little less likely to discuss woman problems with their father, so they need to have someone that they can talk freely with. My website is full if advice to help single fathers get through these difficult discussions with their teenage daughters and find an OBGYN that their daughters are comfortable with.