When to see a gynecologist for vaginal atrophy? 

Vaginal dryness is a common symptom for many women to experience sometime in their life but is often connected to menopause when there is a drop in estrogen levels in the body. Symptoms vary and severeness does as well, some women experience vaginal itchiness, burning, soreness, pain during or after sexual intercourse but there are various treatments available on the market to help relieve discomfort.

Untreated symptoms of vaginal dryness could lead to infection

Have you experienced it painful to take part in certain activities and maybe also during and after sexual intercourse? Maybe your vaginal area feels itchy or sore, sometimes with a burning sensation whilst urinating? The reason for this might be related to vaginal dryness and is more common than you might think amongst women. Symptoms can be more severe with some women than others, everyone is different and there are several treatment options available. If left untreated, vaginal dryness could lead to a higher risk of infections in the vaginal area.

Symptoms of vaginal dryness include, but are not limited to:

  • Soreness
  • Itchiness
  • Reoccurring urinary tract infections
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Pain during or after sexual intercourse
  • Burning feeling while urinating
  • Loss of interest in sexual activities or loss of arousal

Finding the cause for your vaginal dryness will help decide on treatment

There are various symptoms of vaginal dryness and you do not have to experience all of them, it is different for every woman. It is important to get treatment, as leaving it for too long could lead to a higher risk of infections and could be harder to treat the longer you leave it untreated.

The focus lies in finding out the cause of your vaginal dryness as there are several possibilities. Not seeking treatment or discussing the matter with for example your gynecologist could lead to possible negative effects on your general mood or happiness, disrupt your sleep and sexual health.

Drop in estrogen levels not the only cause for vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness is a condition that is very commonly connected to menopause, as estrogen levels drop during this time in life.

There are also other times when this could occur, for example when:

  • Breastfeeding
  • In connection to childbirth
  • Receiving medical treatment for cancer
  • Using anti-estrogen medications
  • Undergoing surgical removal of the ovaries

Other causes for experiencing vaginal dryness include:

  • Allergy medications
  • Douching
  • Lack of foreplay before sexual intercourse
  • Sjögren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disorder)
  • Certain antidepressants
  • Douching

Moisturizer used regularly could help long-term

The use of non-hormonal lubricants and moisturizers could help relieve symptoms of vaginal dryness for those who experience mild to moderate manifestations (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6074805/). These types of treatments are also recommended when vaginal estrogen treatments are not an option.

To relieve symptoms of vaginal dryness short-term, water-based lubricants are considered the best option when it comes to fewer side effects.

Vaginal moisturizers have a longer lasting effect when used regularly and it is important to only use products adapted for the vaginal area.

Discuss with your gynecologist regarding estrogen-based treatments for vaginal dryness

In some cases, estrogen therapy is the recommended treatment option, but should be discussed with your gynecologist as not everyone is a suitable candidate due to for example medical history, other medications and more.

Treatment options containing estrogen include:

  • Vaginal ring
  • Vaginal cream
  • Vaginal tablet

Life-style alterations might help reduce symptoms

Looking into the type of toiletries you use, which underwear fabric you normally wear, discussing sexual foreplay with your partner and which foods you eat could also help relieving your symptoms of vaginal dryness in the long-term. Cotton is considered the best material for your underwear and only products adapted for your vaginal area should be used. Soy and nuts are examples of foods which might improve on symptoms of vaginal dryness as they contain phytoestrogens which act similarly to the hormone estrogen.  

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