Vaginal Atrophy: How to Reduce Vaginal Dryness after the Menopause
By Dr Demetri C Panayi and Dr Pandelis Athanasias of the London Women’s Centre
Vaginal atrophy (also known as atrophic vaginitis or vulvo-vaginal atrophy) is a condition that affects many women, particularly following the menopause. When a woman experiences the joys of the menopause, she typically produces less oestrogen and this often results in vaginal atrophy, which is the thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls.
The cells in the vagina are most lacking in moisture after the menopausal years, which can result in this uncomfortable condition. However, women need not suffer in silence. It is wise to speak to a GP or experienced gynaecologist if vaginal atrophy is seriously affecting your quality of life.
Nonetheless, not all cases will require medical attention and there are now many self-help methods you can use to reduce vaginal dryness during menopause.
Vaginal Moisturisers and Lubricants
For milder cases of vaginal atrophy, over-the-counter self-help options are recommended. Thankfully, there is a wide range of moisturisers on the market that can be used to help restore some much needed hydration into your vaginal area. This should typically be applied 2-3 times a day to temporarily relieve your discomfort.
As an alternative, a water-based lubricant can be used to reduce vaginal dryness discomfort, particularly where the woman is finding it difficult to enjoy sex. We recommend avoiding products which contain glycerine, as this chemical tends to intensify any burning or irritation.
Where your vaginal dryness is definitely the result of menopause, your GP or gynaecologist may prescribe you with vaginal oestrogen. This type of treatment is great for helping to increase any lost oestrogen and can be distributed in several different ways.
Treatment options include pessaries, whereby pills are placed into the vagina, vaginal rings and vaginal creams. You can discuss with your doctor the best type for your body, lifestyle and comfort. Generally, all work in the same way and are just as good as any at helping relieve symptoms of this issue.
Topical oestrogen is the most effective way to treat vaginal dryness for menopausal women, though it may take several weeks to notice positive changes. Therefore, it is recommended that women use this method in conjunction with a lubricant or moisturiser.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
As mentioned, the menopause causes hormones to be lost, resulting in vaginal dryness. To replace these lost hormones by supplying oestrogen to the body, HRT may be prescribed by your GP. HRT can be taken in a number of ways, including gels, patches, tablets and implants and will typically have a stronger effect on your body than the above treatments.
As such, HRT is usually recommended where symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes, are more intense. However, this treatment has a few side effects, which may deter you from choosing it to help with your vaginal atrophy.
MonaLisa Touch Laser Therapy
Now, a new, innovative treatment exists for those suffering from vaginal atrophy. The MonaLisa Touch uses groundbreaking technology to rejuvenate the atrophic vaginal tissue and stimulate lost collagen in the vagina.
You might be discouraged by the word ‘laser’, thinking all manner of things. However, this treatment is minimally invasive, pain-free, and quick and results in significant reduction in dryness, burning, painful sex and urinary problems often caused by vaginal atrophy.
Finding the Right Option for You
So there you have it, there are many options out there for treating a condition that affects a significant number of menopausal women. As such, you no longer have to suffer the often debilitating and embarrassing symptoms of vaginal atrophy. Simply talk to your GP or gynecologist to discuss the right option for you!