Most women have little if no issues with vaginal dryness prior to menopause. It is during the late perimenopausal stages and after menopause has completed that many women begin to notice changes in their genital and vaginal areas. Dryness and pain during intercourse have been reported by many, but not all women who have reached menopause. Many do not understand the causes of this fairly common physiological change. Nor do they realize that there is treatment available to ease the discomfort. By understanding the causes and available treatments for this condition, women who are now suffering can find the relief that is needed to help ease the symptoms and return to a normal and healthy sex life.
Causes For Vaginal Dryness After Menopause
Atrophic vaginitis is the medical term used in the diagnosis of the condition that causes vaginal dryness. It is caused by a decrease in the amount of estrogen produced by the body during menopause. Estrogen is the hormone that helps to keep the tissues of the vaginal and genital regions elastic. It also helps in the production of the body’s natural lubricating secretions. When the supply of estrogen decreases, the result is often a weakening and thinning of these areas. This is what leads to atrophic vaginitis and the accompanying dryness.
When vaginal dryness occurs particularly during sexual intercourse, it is often accompanied by other symptoms. The vagina may also shrink and become shorter. This in addition to a thinning of the walls can lead to pain during intimacy, or in medical terms, disperunia. Too often women who have achieved menopause consider this just a fact of life that must be accepted and lived with. This could not be further from the truth. There are several options for treating these conditions that have worked successfully for thousands of women.
Treatment Options For Atrophic Vaginitis
Your physician can review the symptoms with you and upon a proper diagnosis, recommend the best treatment options for your particular case. The most common standard treatment is Hormone Replacement Therapy. Synthetic hormones are taken to replace the lack of estrogen in the body. This method of treatment has been highly effective in reducing the symptoms of menopause. It helps the body to start responding as though estrogen is still in good supply. A topical estrogen cream is also available on the market for use in treating menopause symptoms. The drawbacks to HRT are that there are often risks and side effects. HRT increases the risks of stroke, cardiovascular issues and certain types of cancers. If you are not a candidate for HRT, or are uncomfortable with this treatment, there are safer alternatives that you can choose.
Alternative Treatment Options
You can begin to supplement your diet with foods and beverages that are rich in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are compounds found naturally in plants, that act like estrogen in the body. They can be found in a wide variety of foods including soybeans and soy products, wild yams, flax, bran, and certain cereals. They are also available as extracts that come in capsule form, teas and powders.
If the main issue that you need to treat is vaginal dryness, you can also try using an assortment of water based gels and lubricants. There are several on the market that are designed to replace the lubrication that menopause has decreased. They will not address the cause of the problem, but rather just serve to make sexual intercourse more comfortable for the time. If this method is adequate to solve your immediate problems, that is wonderful, just bear in mind that they are a temporary fix and not a cure.
Vaginal dryness due to menopause is a condition that many women face and do nothing about. Often this is because they have a lack of knowledge about the treatment options at their disposal. By understanding what causes this uncomfortable and life altering condition, women can begin to take action to correct the problem. A visit to your health care provider can help you to take the first step in first properly diagnosing your condition. He or she may make recommendations based upon your symptoms and health history that will bring you the relief that you need to continue with a healthy and active sex life.