Healthy vaginal lining appears red, plump and moist. Due to aging and around menopause, the level of oestrogen declines. This causes thinning of vaginal lining. Hence vaginal lining becomes thin, dry and light pink bluish.
Elasticity of vaginal lining is reduced. Vaginal atrophy is defined as thinning and inflammation of vaginal lining due to reduced oestrogen level. Usually it develops after menopause but sometimes it is found in lactating mothers and at times when body’s oestrogen production is low.
What Are The Causes Of Vaginal Atrophy?
Many factors are responsible for the decline of oestrogen level and they are,
- During breastfeeding.
- Smoking reduces the blood circulation resulting in improper oxygenation of tissues leading to atrophy.
- Women who have not given birth vaginally are more prone to develop vaginal atrophy.
- Peri-menopausal period – this means period around menopause.
- Total hysterectomy or when ovaries are removed surgically.
- After taking chemotherapy or pelvic radiation due to cancer.
- After taking hormonal treatment for breast cancer.
Symptoms Of Vaginal Atrophy
- There is dryness and burning sensation in vagina.
- Difficult and painful sexual intercourse. One may have slight bleeding after intercourse.
- Burning urination.
- Urinary incontinence.
- Tightening and shortening of vaginal canal can be seen.
- One may have frequent urinary tract infection.
- Itching in vagina.
- In addition menopausal women may experience hot flushes, night sweat, palpitation, mood swings and unwanted hair growth.
Home Remedies For Vaginal Atrophy
- Apply vaginal moisturizer locally.
- Vaginal oestrogen ring or tablets are available. Consult the doctor before taking vaginal or oral oestrogen treatment. Oral oestrogen therapy is not recommended in women having history of breast cancer. It may increase the risk of getting cancer again.
- Use lubricant during sexual intercourse. Give some time for proper arousal.
- Continue to be sexually active. Intercourse helps to improve blood circulation in genital area and helps to maintain healthy tissue.
- Soaking in warm bath tub may help to reduce pain and burning sensation.
- Aloe vera extract when used as topical gel will reduce the dryness, burning and itching in vagina. It promotes the formation of healthy tissue. Consult your physician before using it.
- Calendula has soothing action on vaginal mucosa. It prevents inflammation and infection when applied locally. Talk to your doctor before using it.
- Quit smoking.
- Wear undergarments made of cotton.
- Avoid scented pads and tampons.
- Drink plenty of water to keep your body well hydrated.
- Clean vagina with mild soap and warm water to protect it from infection.
- See the doctor immediately if you notice abnormal bleeding or discharge from vagina.