Vaginal dryness is present when the tissues of the vagina are not well-lubricated and healthy.
Vaginitis - atrophic; Vaginitis due to reduced estrogen; Atrophic vaginitis; Menopause vaginal dryness
Atrophic vaginitis is caused by a decrease in estrogen.
Estrogen keeps the tissues of the vagina lubricated and healthy. Normally, the lining of the vagina makes a clear, lubricating fluid. This fluid makes sexual intercourse more comfortable. It also helps decrease vaginal dryness.
If estrogen levels drop off, the tissues of the vagina shrink and become thinner. This causes dryness and inflammation.
Estrogen levels normally drop after menopause. The following may also cause estrogen levels to drop:
Some women develop this problem right after childbirth or while breastfeeding. Estrogen levels are lower at these times.
The vagina can also become further irritated from soaps, laundry detergents, lotions, perfumes, or douches. Certain medicines, smoking, tampons, and condoms may also cause or worsen vaginal dryness.
There are many treatments for vaginal dryness. Before treating your symptoms on your own, a health care provider must find out the cause of the problem.
Prescription estrogen can work well to treat atrophic vaginitis. It is available as a cream, tablet, suppository, or ring. All of these are placed directly into the vagina. These medicines deliver estrogen directly to the vaginal area. Only a little estrogen is absorbed into the bloodstream.
You may take estrogen (hormone therapy) in the form of a skin patch, or in a pill that you take by mouth if you have hot flashes or other symptoms of menopause. The pill or patch may not provide adequate estrogen to treat your vaginal dryness. In such cases, you may need to add a vaginal hormone medicine as well. If so, talk to your provider about this.
You should discuss the risks and benefits of estrogen replacement therapy with your provider.
Proper treatment will ease symptoms most of the time.
Vaginal dryness can:
Call your provider if you have vaginal dryness or soreness, burning, itching, or painful sexual intercourse that does not go away when you use a water-soluble lubricant.
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