Understanding Vaginal Atrophy

Menopause is a time of change, somewhat of a milestone. However, this period can also be a time of discomfort. This is particularly the case when it comes to irritating symptoms like vaginal atrophy. Vaginal atrophy is the medical term for the drying, thinning or inflammation of the vaginal walls that is the result of reduced estrogen levels. If you've been experiencing vaginal discomfort and are of age, menopause could be to blame.

Understanding Vaginal Atrophy

Before a female reaches menopause, the lining of the vagina is both moist and fleshy. As estrogen is produced, this sends a signal to the glands within the region to produce mucus and fluid that helps keep the area well-lubricated.

As menopause approaches, estrogen production starts to decline, which also affects the glands and their ability to lubricate the vagina. A result of this decrease in production is a vaginal lining that starts to thin, dry out and lose elasticity. For some women, this decrease in estrogen production also causes their lining to turn from bright red to pink.

Risk Factors

Vaginal atrophy can lead to significant irritation and discomfort, particularly when it comes to sexual intercourse. However, this condition can also threaten your health in the form of an increased risk for infection. An important compound produced by an estrogen rich environment is glycogen, a deposit that promotes the growth of healthy bacteria. 

The kind of healthy bacteria that helps prevent infection. When you don't have this compound in your vagina, much of your vagina's natural defenses are lost, making you more susceptible to a number of vaginal infections.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

One of the most effective treatment options available to deal with menopausal symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This treatment method involves the process of reintroducing hormones into your body that are no longer being produced as a result of menopause, including estrogen.

Reintroducing these hormones helps balance the body and alleviate these symptoms. In years past, HRT was only available in the form of a pill. However, the hormones can also be introduced in the form of a patch or vaginal gel. For women who don't want the hassle of daily application, HRT vaginal rings are also an alternative.

If you are experiencing vaginal atrophy, speak with your medical provider. A provider will be able to formally diagnosis menopause as the source of the problem and start you on a hormone replacement therapy regimen best-suited to meet your needs. Visit http://www.centraliowaobgyn.com for more information.