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Vaginal Atrophy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Vaginal Atrophy

    I'd gone to the doctor for antibiotics for a urinary tract infection (UTI). I'd had a UTI enough times over the years to know the symptoms. They did the usual test. He told me I didn't have one. I argued with him. But he was right. What I had instead is called vaginal atrophy. I later learned that at least fifty percent of woman experience this after menopause, especially if they don't take hormone replacement therapy (HRT). I stopped taking mine when my sister's HRT gave her breast cancer. She died from it.

    Posting something like this is a bit intimate, but it's a real problem that need to be out in the open. So I'm posting this for those who may not be aware of it, or are, but don't know what to do about it. Some people are embarrassed to talk about it.

    The following information comes from the Mayo Clinic in the U.S., a reputable place which gives sound information. The things in parentheses are my inserts.

    Vaginal atrophy -atrophic vaginitis- is thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to your body having less estrogen. Vaginal atrophy occurs most often after menopause.

    For many women, vaginal atrophy not only makes intercourse painful, but also leads to distressing urinary symptoms. Because of the interconnected nature of the vaginal and urinary symptoms of this condition, experts agree that a more accurate term for vaginal atrophy and its accompanying symptoms is "genitourinary syndrome of menopause - GSM."

    Symptoms - vaginal dryness, vaginal burning, genital itching, burning with urination, urgency with urination, more urinary tract infections, urinary inconinence, light bleeding during intercourse, discomfort during intercourse, decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual activity, shortening and tightening of the vaginal canal.

    Nearly half of postmenopausal women experience GSM, although few seek treatment. Many women resign themselves to the symptoms or are embarrassed to discuss them with their doctor. (One of my doctors was uncomfortable talking about it.)

    Replens, Vagisil Feminine Moisturizer and others or water-based lubricant, glycerin-free versions of Astroglide, K-Y Intrigue and others can help some. (I found a natural estrogen gel that seemed to help for a while. It no longer does. It's call Pueraria Mirifica. Since it's estrogen, there can be some risk, but it's not nearly as risky applied topically to the vaginal area as it is to take pills. My doctor recommended the estrogen cream made by a standard pharmacutical, but my insurance would not pay for it. Plus, it makes me nervous to use it.)

    Causes - Genitourinary syndrome of menopause GSM is caused by a decrease in estrogen production. Less estrogen makes your vaginal tissues thinner, drier, less elastic and more fragile.

    A drop in estrogen levels may occur after menopause, after surgery to remove both ovaries, after pelvic radiation therapy for cancer, after chemotherapy for cancer and can be a side effect of breast cancer hormonal treatment.

    GSM signs and symptoms may begin to bother you during the years leading up to menopause, or it may not become a problem until several years into menopause. Although the condition is common, not all menopausal women experience GSM. Regular sexual activity, with or without a partner, can help you maintain healthy vaginal tissues.

    Certain factors may contribute to genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), such as: No vaginal births. Researchers have observed that women who have never given birth vaginally are more likely to develop GSM than women who have had vaginal deliveries. No sexual activity. Sexual activity, with or without a partner, increases blood flow and makes your vaginal tissues more elastic. (The doctor who diagnosed me told me that the tissues in the area can be reduced to one cell thick. It's easy to rip them. it is very painful when this happens.)

    GMS increases your risk of: Vaginal infections - changes in the acid balance of your vagina makes vaginal infections -vaginitis- more likely. Urinary problems - urinary changes associated with GSM can contribute to urinary problems. You might experience increased frequency or urgency of urination or burning with urination. Some women experience more urinary tract infections or incontinence.

    What to do about it: regular sexual activity with or without a partner may help prevent it. Sexual activity increases blood flow to the vagina and helps keep vaginal tissues healthy.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    I've always know that postmenopausal woman may experience some dryness, sorry your symptoms are so severe that you feel like you have a urinary tract infection. I never took any hormones, only used Red Clover Blossom capsules daily to lessen my hot flashes. Currently I am still active with my husband sexually and sometimes need a little help with lubrication, but no pain and not too bad at all. I'll have to look this up and see if there are any natural alternatives to help relieve the dryness. If I find anything useful Phoenix, I'll post it here.

    Coconut oil is a very good skin lubricant and has other health benefits, I try to take a spoonful of quality coconut oil daily. Taking it internally has helped me in the past with dry and itchy skin, so I imagine it would benefit anyone suffering with excessive vaginal dryness also. More here.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Thanks for the article Phoenix and sorry you are going through these problems.
    Like Seabreeze, I never took replacement hormones but used evening primrose oil and wild yam to reduce night sweats and other discomfort caused by menopause. Iím in agreement with the coconut oil being useful for so much. I use it for a lot of things. Thanks for the link.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Thanks for your support and suggestions. I've already tried those things. The night sweats ended years ago. I'm a big believer in natural remedies. I posted this for women who might not be aware of it. I've dealt with it. The problem became awful after my husband had surgery and was incapacitated for some time. For those who have a problem with things getting smaller, there are vaginal dilators. You can look them up online.

Please reply to this thread with any new information or opinions.

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