What Is Vaginal Atrophy?

Vaginal atrophy is a common condition in post menopausal women and can start to occur in perimenopausal women.  For these women, sex is often painful, or non existent due to pain, a burning feeling, lack of lubrication,  and/or tearing in the vaginal area.

No matter how much she wants sex, the problem still persists.  Her body just doesn’t seem to work like it used to.

Following on from this,  the desire to have sex often diminishes, causing relationship/marriage breakdowns.  Yet most women still do not seek medical help,  feel inadequate or embarrassed, and suffer in silence.

The good news is…

‘Vaginal Atrophy Can be Treated’
Is More Common Than You Think

I had never heard of Vaginal Atrophy (also known as Menopausal Atrophy, Atrophic Vaginitis) until I was diagnosed with it in 2019.

I was shocked and confused, and felt like the problem would never go away.  At the same time I also had Vaginismus (tight vaginal muscles), which in my case was caused from vaginal dryness (A Vaginal Atrophy symptom).

When a doctor diagnoses you with vaginal atrophy, like most other things, time in the doctor’s office is often limited, and you are often given a short clinical explanation.

Vaginal Atrophy is treatableYou leave feeling a bunch of mixed up emotions about what the doctor has said, and confused about what to do, or what the best treatment option is for you.

Secondly, many women feel too embarrassed to ask their doctor all the questions they have, especially when it comes to the most private area of the body – the Va jaj jay.

So, for this reason, I thought it would be beneficial to write this article to help you to understand vaginal atrophy in a simple way.

You can read my story about when and how I was diagnosed with Vaginal Atrophy here – My Vaginismus Came Back Over 30 Years Later.

What Vaginal Atrophy Is

In short vaginal atrophy is when the walls of the vagina start to become thinner, due to your hormone levels of estrogen dropping.  The vaginal walls shrink (shorten and tighten), and often worsen the more the estrogen levels decline.

This results in the vaginal skin becoming dryer. thinner, tender, painful, inflamed, and easily irritated.

The vaginal area is very sensitive to estrogen, as estrogen is what keeps it moist and elastic. In saying this, the bladder also needs estrogen to function properly.

Estrogen treatment via estrogen creams that you insert into the vagina are the most common forms of treatment offered.

If you don’t want to be on estrogen treatment, there are other options that I will put at the bottom of this post.

Vaginal Atrophy can also be caused from a hormone change when breastfeeding, after your ovaries have been surgically removed, and during/after various cancer treatments. Diabetes and cigarette smoking can also heighten your risk of getting vaginal atrophy, because they both restrict blood flow (circulation).

Many women that have vaginal atrophy also experience the same symptoms in the vulvar, and clitoral area as well.  This is often referred to as Vulvar Vaginal Atrophy (VVA).

(“DISCLOSURE – Lady Parts Gone may get commissions for purchases made through various links and/or banners in this post.”)

Common Symptoms Of Vaginal Atrophy:

Most women dread sex, or any other form of penetration, for example, a Pap Smear Test when they have a sore vaginal area.

On this note – Please don’t avoid a Pap Smear Test due to vaginal soreness.  A Pap Smear could save your life.

Explain your soreness to the doctor or nurse, as vaginal soreness is common, and they can use numbing creams, various pain killers, and extra lubricant to make it more comfortable for you.

* This is worth mentioning – Before I was diagnosed with vaginal atrophy I kept thinking I had an infection of some type, due to the symptoms I was having, which included many of the symptoms listed below.  A medical examination ruled out any form of infection.*

The common symptoms in regards to sex or penetration:

Pain or discomfort during Sex

Spotting after sex

Vaginal dryness – A lack of natural lubrication

A burning feeling

Penetration feels like glass is cutting you

A pulling feeling during sex or penetration

Other Common Symptoms:

Inflamed vaginal area

Discharge in the vaginal area

Itching in the vaginal area

Sore or tender vaginal area in general

Frequent urinary infections

A burning feeling when urinating (peeing)

Urinary leakage – Involuntary leakage

Shortening and tightening of the vagina internally.


Treatment For Vaginal Atrophy

There are various treatments offered to women with vaginal atrophy.

Estrogen Treatment – As mentioned above estrogen vaginal cream, and estrogen rings are the most common ones.  It’s worth noting that most of these are messy as they leave a whitish chalky discharge on your underwear.

If estrogen is not for you continue reading, there are other treatment options.

Keeping the vaginal area healthy is crucial.  Use plenty of vaginal lubricant during sex or penetration.

(“DISCLOSURE – Lady Parts Gone may get commissions for purchases made through various links and/or banners in this post.”)

Vaginal Moisturizers – You can also get vaginal moisturizers that are designed just for the vaginal area.  Just like moisturizers for your face and body, vaginal moisturizers can help to repair the delicate skin it is made for.

When you are looking for a vaginal moisturizer, always read the instructions carefully, as some are made for internal and external vaginal use, and others are for external use only EG: only the vulval area.

To view or purchase vaginal moisturizers – SEE Vaginal Moisturizers.

I prefer to use natural products as they aren’t as likely to cause irritation.  The vaginal moisturizer I use is an organic one – SEE: Yes Water-Based vaginal Moisturizer.

Some doctors advise patients to use, coconut oil or olive oil.  Personally, I haven’t tried these, due to the high oil content they have, which I would think could stain your underwear/clothing.

In saying this, wearing a panty liner could combat the staining side of things.

Laser Treatment – Just like for your face, there is now a laser treatment for the vaginal area, that is showing promising results to woman that suffer with Vaginal Atrophy.

If you are thinking about getting this type of treatment don’t rush into it.  It is worth noting that there are mixed opinions among healthcare professionals, about how safe this type of treatment is.

This treatment is quite new, so there really isn’t a substantial amount of data on the safety of it yet, as you will see – FDA Shines A Light On Vaginal Rejuvenation.

This type of laser treatment is known as the Mona Lisa Touch.

Unlike facial laser treatments, the Mona Lisa Touch therapy is said to be painless when used in the vaginal area.

This laser treatment promotes blood flow to the vaginal areas, that stimulates collagen production, to make the vaginal area healthy again.

A few treatments are needed at the beginning, and then maintenance treatments when needed after that.

Please note: In many countries, you may need to pay for this to be done.  This type of treatment is viewed as a medical treatment, not a cosmetic treatment by specialists, so you may be covered by healthcare insurance.

 END NOTE: If You Don’t Use It You Will Lose It

Some doctors will just tell you to use a vaginal lubricant, and to have sex more often, with a mindset that, ‘If you don’t use it (Your vagina for sex), you will lose it (the use of it).

If you have the symptoms above, and are in the perimenopausal, or menopausal years (usually from age 45 upwards), and a doctor has said this to you, find another doctor.

The ‘If you don’t use it, you will lose it’,  approach is only partially true.

This mindset is really only for someone that doesn’t have vaginal atrophy yet, and classed as a preventative to getting vaginal atrophy.

Here’s Why:  If you don’t have vaginal atrophy yet, or you only have a mild case of it, this may be okay.  The reason is because regular sex, or penetration increases circulation (regular blood flow) to the tissues in your vaginal area, and helps to keep it healthy and elastic.

If you are already suffering with the symptoms listed above, you certainly don’t want to make your condition/pain worse.  If you broke your arm, you certainly wouldn’t be using it until it was mended, and had healed properly.

The key to healing your vaginal atrophy, is to get on a treatment plan that works for you, and once your symptoms lessen a lot, or heal, then start having sex or penetration regularly, to help to keep the vagina healthy and elastic.

If you have healed from vaginal atrophy but are not currently in a relationship  –  You can always perform self-pleasure by using a dilator or vibrator to help your vaginal area to stay healthy.

Self-pleasure may seem repulsive to you at first, but hey, if it’s going to help to keep things in the lady part healthy, why not use one.

You can get small vibrators about the size of a tampon, that are often called a bullet vibrator.  These things might be small, but they can certainly give pleasure, and are great for first-time users.

If you prefer, you can also get larger ones that are similar to a penis size.  To view/purchase vibrators – See the Vibrators.

You don’t need to tell anyone you are doing it anyway.  Another bonus is, if Mr Right comes along, you won’t need to tell him you have vaginal atrophy if you have managed to heal from it.

Article brought to you by Ms Tight

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(DISCLAIMER:  I am not a health care professional, the information in this article is based on my own personal experience of living with vaginismus, vaginal atrophy (including menopause issues), and what I have learned along the way. Some articles on this website will include other womanly issues that I feel women need to know about.  If you have any concerns about your health, it is best for you to seek advice from a health care professional – Full disclaimer)“.

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