Vaginal Atrophy Treatment in Pinellas County, FL
What Is Vaginal Atrophy?
Vaginal atrophy—also known as atrophic vaginitis—refers to the thinning or shrinking of vaginal tissues which results in inflammation, dryness, and other uncomfortable symptoms in the vaginal area. Menopause is typically responsible for the development of vaginal atrophy due to the decrease in estrogen levels; however, atrophic vaginitis can occur in any woman, regardless of her age, who experiences this drop in estrogen.
Early diagnosis and treatment of vaginal atrophy are critical to prevent permanent changes in the structure and tissue of the vagina. To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Pinellas County who specializes in vaginal atrophy treatment, call (727) 826-0838 or contact Dr. Tracie Leonhardt online.
What Causes Vaginal Atrophy?
Vaginal atrophy is caused by a decrease in the sex hormone estrogen. This can occur during menopause or perimenopause (the years that precede menopause), and also affects women who receive a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus and womb).
When the decrease estrogen production occurs, it causes changes in the tissues, function, and structure of your genitals, including:
- Reduced elasticity
- Thinning of the vaginal lining
- Narrowing and shortening of the vaginal canal
- Reduced production of vaginal fluids
- Altered pH balance in vagina
Other risk factors linked to the development of vaginal atrophy include diabetes, smoking, aging, no vaginal births, sexual inactivity, breastfeeding, and certain medications. Chemotherapy and radiation can also cause vaginal atrophy.
Vaginal Atrophy Symptoms
Your vaginal atrophy symptoms will vary depending on the condition's severity; in the early stages, you may not experience any symptoms. As the condition progresses, symptoms of vaginal atrophy may include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal itching
- Pain during intercourse
- Vaginal discharge
- Vaginal burning
- Redness or swelling of vaginal lining
- Whitish discoloration of vagina
- Bleeding or spotting, especially after intercourse
- Lack of normal vaginal lubrication during sexual activity
Vaginal atrophy also creates symptoms which affect your urinary function. In fact, these urinary symptoms are so interconnected with the condition that many experts suggest that vaginal atrophy receive a new name: genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). It is believed that over half of post-menopausal women suffer from an array of GSM symptoms, including:
- Frequent urination
- Urgency, burning, or pain when urinating
- Repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Urinary incontinence
Unlike other forms of vaginitis, vaginal atrophy is not contagious.
Vaginal Atrophy Diagnosis & Treatment
Your medical history, together with a physical pelvic examination and a review of your symptoms is usually sufficient for a vaginal atrophy diagnosis, but diagnostic tests like urine, blood, or saliva tests to monitor hormone levels, or ultrasound to determine the level of vaginal structural degeneration, may be necessary.
Treatment for vaginal atrophy focuses on managing symptoms and addressing your underlying estrogen imbalance.
The most common vaginal atrophy treatments include:
- Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is the most frequently recommended treatment course to increase estrogen and balance hormone levels systemically; this will restore normal vaginal pH, control the balance of healthy bacteria, restore normal levels of moisture and lubrication, and thicken vaginal skin.
- Vaginal estrogen therapy is used to treat vaginal symptoms and is available via cream, tablet, or estrogen ring that is inserted and replaced every three months
- Topical ointments, oils or lotions are recommended to add moisture, treat vaginal dryness, and provide lubrication during sexual intercourse
- Dilators may be recommended to gradually stretch the width of the vaginal canal using increasingly larger diameter dilators (often used in conjunction with vaginal hormone therapy options)
Natural Treatments for Vaginal Atrophy
Making important lifestyle changes can help to treat vaginal atrophy naturally. It is important that you consider:
- Smoking cessation
- Increasing water consumption
- Staying sexually active
- Avoiding douches, petroleum ointments, and heavily perfumed powders, soaps, and bubble baths
- Consuming a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Using natural lubricants
Your healthcare provider may also recommend certain nutritional supplements to help restore balance to your hormone levels and correct any nutritional deficiencies. These supplements include probiotics , omega-3 fish oil , vitamin E, and vitamin D. You should only begin taking dietary supplements under the recommendation and guidance of your healthcare provider.
If you are experiencing what you believe may be vaginal atrophy, schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare practitioner in Pinellas County who specializes in treating vaginal atrophy. Call (727) 826-0838 or contact Dr. Tracie Leonhardt online.
Peaks of Health Metabolic Medical Center
Address1120 S Belcher Rd
Largo, FL 33771
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm