Treating Vaginal Atrophy

Vaginal atrophy occurs when levels of estrogen decline. The condition causes the vagina to become dry and shrunken, and the walls of the vagina become thin. Symptoms of this condition include pain during intercourse, spotting after sex, and burning or itching of the vagina. Vaginal atrophy leaves women prone to infection.

Lubricants Help

Using a water-soluble lubricant can aid in the prevention of painful intercourse and can be bought in any grocery store or pharmacy without a prescription. Regular sexual activity can prevent the symptoms of atrophic vaginitis, another name for the condition. Sexual intercourse serves to increase the blood circulation to the vagina, which aids in preserving vaginal tissue.

In addition to these simple measures, estrogen therapy is beneficial for women who suffer from atrophic vaginitis. Estrogen therapy can be administered in a variety of forms including pills, cream, vaginal suppositories, skin patches, and vaginal rings. The skin patch is applied once or twice a week for transdermal delivery of estrogen. The vaginal ring is left in the vagina for three months’ time, giving a steady, gradual release of estrogen straight to the vaginal tissues.

Research Initiative

Up to recent times, estrogen was thought to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in postmenopausal women. The Women’s Health Initiative, a research initiative devoted to health issues affecting older women has since cast doubt on this theory. The WHI research suggested that combined estrogen-progesterone therapy may serve to increase a woman’s risk of stroke and heart attack, and estrogen therapy on its own increases the risk for stroke. Despite these findings, estrogen therapy is still the recommended course of treatment for the relief of menopause-related symptoms, for instance, vaginal atrophy. Physicians aim to prescribe the lowest possible dose that will effect a reduction in symptoms. Vaginal estrogen therapies don’t cause a significant increase in blood levels of estrogen, so this is considered the safest course of estrogen treatment available.

Vaginal Bleeding

Women on estrogen who still have a uterus should beware that this therapy can cause bleeding similar to that experienced during a menstrual cycle. Discuss any bleeding with your physician, to be on the safe side.

Estrogen use is contraindicated in women with the following conditions:

*A history of blood clots

*Endometrial cancer

*Breast cancer

*A history of liver disease

*Vaginal bleeding of unknown etiology

Other factors may contribute to your physician’s decision not to start you on estrogen therapy. Some conditions which may overrule the use of estrogen therapy include migraine, gallbladder disease, endometriosis, and high blood pressure. If you suffer from any of these conditions, it’s prudent to discuss this with your doctor.

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