Have you noticed things seem a little different “down there” and are worried about vaginal atrophy? You’re not alone. Millions of women suffer a decline in their quality of life from the dryness, loss of elasticity, pain with sex, and other unpleasant symptoms this common condition can bring.
At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare, with offices in Fayetteville, Newnan, and Stockbridge, Georgia, our board-certified OB/GYN providers understand the frustration vaginal atrophy brings. We also believe in educating our patients about their reproductive health, including treating and managing symptoms of vaginal atrophy.
Keep reading to learn five important facts about vaginal atrophy and the treatments our practice offers.
1. Vaginal atrophy is more common than you think
At least 50% of menopausal women experience symptoms of vaginal atrophy. In fact, it’s so common that doctors sometimes call it the genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). Medical researchers believe even more women have vaginal atrophy but don’t report it, possibly believing they must simply live with it as a fact of aging.
This is unfortunate, since therapies exist to ease the problematic symptoms associated with vaginal atrophy. At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare, we understand it can be difficult to share personal symptoms with your provider. We strive to create a comfortable and compassionate atmosphere for you, so you can feel confident sharing symptoms with your provider.
2. Declining estrogen levels contribute to vaginal atrophy
Vaginal atrophy is related to declining levels in the hormone estrogen, which occur most often in perimenopause and menopause. Other conditions can also trigger declines in estrogen, such as treatments for breast cancer and natural fluctuations after pregnancy.
Estrogen plays an important role in the health of your vaginal tissues, helping maintain tissue thickness, lubrication, and elasticity. When levels drop, it can trigger changes, like vaginal dryness and inflammation of the vaginal walls.
3. Vaginal atrophy can cause more than dryness
One of the most common — and most frustrating — signs of vaginal atrophy is increased vaginal dryness, which can make sex painful. But there’s more to vaginal atrophy than a lack of lubrication.
Other signs of vaginal atrophy include:
- Vaginal burning and itching
- Changes in vaginal discharge
- Vaginal laxity (looseness)
- Stress urinary incontinence
- Spotting or bleeding after intercourse
- Difficulty achieving orgasm
- Feeling of pressure in the vagina
- Increase in yeast infections
Women with vaginal atrophy may also experience chronic urinary tract infections.
4. Diagnosing vaginal atrophy isn’t complicated
Unlike some gynecological conditions that require biopsies or exploratory surgery to diagnose, all you need for an accurate diagnosis of vaginal atrophy is an exam from your Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare provider.
Your provider evaluates your vaginal tissues, looking for signs of atrophy, such as decreased elasticity, microtears, sensitivity, and lack of lubrication. Since vaginal atrophy shares symptoms with other genitourinary conditions, your provider may order lab work to check for infections or to check your pH balance.
5. You have options for treating vaginal atrophy
At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare, we create treatment plans based on each patient’s unique situation. We consider the patient’s symptoms, medical history, exam results, and goals for treatment. Depending on your situation, we may recommend over-the-counter lubricants, vaginal moisturizers, hormone therapy, or laser therapy.
When it comes to laser therapy, we use the advanced MonaLisa Touch® system. This system uses laser energy to gently heat your vaginal tissues. This, in turn, triggers an increase in collagen and elastin production to help the delicate skin rebuild itself. Treatments with the MonaLisa Touch system can result in noticeable improvements in your vaginal health, such as:
- Increased lubrication
- Thicker vaginal walls
- Reduced vaginal laxity
- Plumper vaginal and vulvar skin
- Reduced dryness and itching
- Better sensation during sex
- Increased libido
- Sex that’s pain-free
- Reduced urinary incontinence
Everyone’s treatment plan varies, but most women benefit from a series of three treatments and yearly touch-up sessions to ensure their vaginal tissues stay healthy and youthful.
If you’re concerned about vaginal atrophy, we can help. To learn more, call 770-991-2200 or book an appointment online with Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare today.