Vaginal dryness and atrophy are often linked to menopause but can occur at any age. Nearly 20 percent of pre-menopausal women experience it, and it can lead to irritation, itching, frequent urination, and painful sex.

While many women are hesitant to bring up the topic of vaginal dryness with their gynecologists, it is a highly treatable condition. At The Center for Women’s Sexual Health & Medicine, we take a comprehensive and individualized approach to patient care and evaluate physical, emotional, and lifestyle factors when determining the best treatments for our patients.

What is vaginal atrophy?

It is characterized by thinning and drying of the vaginal walls as well as a loss of lubrication, collagen and elasticity. Healthy vaginas are naturally moist– lubricated by a clear/white fluid that protects the delicate tissues from injury. Persistent or untreated vaginal dryness is one of the leading causes of sexual dysfunction and makes women more prone to urinary tract infections.

What are the causes of vaginal atrophy?

The transition into menopause and the accompanying drop in hormones is one of the leading causes. Estrogen keeps vaginal tissues elastic and naturally lubricated. This female hormone can also decline during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or when taking oral contraceptive pills.

Besides menopause, the following factors can also lead to vaginal atrophy and dryness:

  • Certain anti-allergy medications, antidepressants, and oral contraceptives Personal hygiene products (scented soaps, wipes, vaginal douches)
  • After Chemotherapy treatments
  • After Radiation treatments
  • Autoimmune disorders like Sjögren’s syndrome Surgical removal of the ovaries
  • During breastfeeding and postpartum

How is vaginal atrophy diagnosed?

An accurate diagnosis is based on your symptoms, medical history, sexual history, and a gynecologic exam.

Seeking professional help is the first step toward finding relief. Our providers understand that each woman is unique in her healthcare needs and are sensitive to the personal nature of this common concern.

Signs of vaginal atrophy

The primary symptoms of vaginal dryness are:

  • Sore and dry around the vaginal opening Genital itching
  • Vaginal burning
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual activity Discomfort or pain during vaginal intercourse Urgency with urination
  • Burning with urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections

Because the condition often causes both vaginal and urinary symptoms we use the term “Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM)” to describe vaginal atrophy and its accompanying symptoms.

Are there treatments?

Chronic vaginal dryness and GSM can have a negative impact on a woman’s health and sexual life. Fortunately, there are many treatments for vaginal atrophy/dryness and GSM. The first step is to take a careful medical history, perform a gynecologic examination and accurately assess the woman’s condition. Then review and discuss the treatment options with your provide. Often multimodal treatment is necessary.

Some of the most effective therapies for restoring the vaginal area include:

  • Vaginal Estrogen therapy (creams, rings, or inserts)
  • Topical water, silicone, or oil-based lubricants during sex
  • Vaginal moisturizers (Hyaluronic acid, Vitamin E, or coconut oil based) Vaginal DHEA (Intrarosa)
  • Oral Osphena
  • MonaLisaTouchTM Vaginal Laser

Also to note preventive measures such as avoiding use of irritating feminine hygiene products and wipes are very important. In addition regular sexual activity or stimulation of the area with or without a partner is important in maintaining blood flow to the genital area.

Contact us for vaginal dryness relief

If not addressed, vaginal dryness can significantly affect a woman’s health and sexual life. Even if a woman is not sexually active with a partner, treatment is recommended and continued maintenance therapy is encouraged.

Book an appointment with a vaginal dryness specialist in Miami at The Center for Women’s Sexual Health & Medicine.

We are pleased to offer our patients both in-office and Telemedicine consultations.