Vaginal dryness is a very common problem, becoming increasingly common as a woman gets older. The lining of the vagina normally produces lubricants that help keep the vagina healthy and make sexual activity more comfortable. Production of these lubricants relies on normal levels of estrogen and progesterone as well as healthy populations of “good” bacteria and “flora.” Vaginal dryness can occur for different reasons, but in most cases, it develops as a result of a decrease in hormones associated with menopause or some chronic medical conditions. Infections can also interfere with normal vaginal lubrication.
Vaginal atrophy is a condition primarily associated with menopause. As levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, the vagina can become thinner and dryer, resulting in increased irritation, inflammation and other side effects like pain during and after intercourse and increased risks of vaginal and urinary tract infections. Women with vaginal atrophy also may experience symptoms like burning or itching in the vagina or vaginal discharge, and some women also may have symptoms of urinary incontinence, including increased urgency to urinate.
Vaginal dryness and atrophy affect millions of women, many of whom incorrectly believe their symptoms are part of the “natural” course of aging. IN fact, there are many treatment options available to relieve these symptoms so women can lead healthier and more comfortable lives. Treatment options include:
Prior to treatment, a thorough exam will be performed and blood work or urinalysis may also be ordered to rule out other possible issues that may cause similar symptoms. Getting treatment at the first sign of vaginal dryness is important for avoiding vaginal and urinary tract infections and other acute or chronic issues.
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