The transition through menopause can be a bumpy road as your body readjusts to your non-reproductive stage. Unfortunately, menopause goes far beyond the simple shutting down of your ovaries and casts a wide net over your health, including your vaginal health. At our practice, our team specializes in reproductive health, helping women navigate each stage of their lives. Arguably, one of the more dramatic changes in women occurs when hormone levels drop after menopause, which leads to conditions like vaginal atrophy. Here’s a look at vaginal atrophy and, more importantly, what we can do about it.
Defining menopause and its symptoms
There are nearly 65 million postmenopausal women in the country and of this number, 32 million display varying degrees of vulvar and vaginal atrophy. While this is one of the more common side effects of menopause, there’s much more to this transition, including problems with bone loss and bladder control. In an effort to remove the stigma that comes with words like atrophy and to shine new light on the many health issues that can plague postmenopausal women, the North American Menopause Society now labels postmenopausal symptoms as genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). GSM encompasses the many changes that can come with a drop in estrogen and progesterone, including the loss of tissue health in your vagina and genitalia that leads to atrophy.
Behind the tissue loss
When you pass through menopause, it means your ovaries are shutting down and they won’t release any more eggs. Unfortunately, your ovaries are also responsible for producing most of your estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that play key roles in your reproductive and general health. When it comes to vaginal tissue health, for example, higher levels of estrogen hormones ensured that this tissue enjoyed sufficient elasticity and lubrication to encourage intercourse and handle childbirth. After menopause, your vaginal tissue no longer has access to these hormonal resources, which can lead to:
- Vaginal dryness
- Thinning vaginal walls
- Burning or itching around your vagina
- Vaginal discharge
- Painful sex
While we’re referring mainly to menopause, there are other conditions that can cause the loss of these hormones, such as a hysterectomy or certain cancer treatments.
Addressing vaginal tissue health
If you’re experiencing a change in your vaginal tissue, or atrophy, there are several ways that we can approach the problem. We’re pleased to offer the innovative ThermiVa. With this technology, we deliver radiofrequency energy into your vaginal tissue to strengthen the tissue, which helps with both painful sex and bladder support. We also encourage women to continue an active sex life as your body responds to this activity, preventing atrophy from taking hold. The bottom line is that we?re here to help, and we have solutions. If you’re struggling with vaginal atrophy, please contact our office in Los Angeles, California, to explore your treatment options.