4 Symptoms of Vaginal Atrophy to Look For

It’s no fluke that a substantial number of women experience unrelenting vaginal dryness for the first time once they reach middle age. Along with hot flashes and mood swings, vaginal dryness is one of the most familiar (and bothersome) symptoms of menopause. 

But while hot flashes and other interim symptoms generally subside once the transition into menopause is complete, genital and urinary symptoms tend to stick around unless they’re treated. 

For as many as three in five postmenopausal women, persistent vaginal dryness is actually a symptom of vaginal atrophy, a longstanding inflammatory condition that causes the tissues that line the vaginal canal to gradually become drier, thinner, and less elastic.  

Let’s explore the underlying cause of vaginal atrophy, learn about a few of its most common symptoms, and find out how a game-changing new treatment can help you reverse its effects for good. 

Vaginal atrophy 101

As one of your most important reproductive hormones, estrogen plays a vital role in regulating your menstrual cycle and making pregnancy possible. That’s why, as your body produces less estrogen in the years leading up to menopause, your periods become lighter or irregular and your fertility levels begin to dwindle.   

But did you know that estrogen also helps maintain optimum elasticity, acidity, and lubrication of vaginal tissue? As your estrogen levels plummet, your vaginal tissues lose moisture and elasticity, leaving them significantly thinner, drier, and more delicate than before. 

Also known as atrophic vaginitis, vaginal atrophy is a common problem that can give rise to a variety of uncomfortable or even painful vaginal and urinary symptoms, ranging from persistent vaginal dryness and burning to painful intercourse, urinary leakage, and chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs).  

Vaginal atrophy symptoms

The term genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) is often used to describe vaginal atrophy and its many interconnected symptoms, which include: 

Vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness is by far the most common symptom of GSM; aside from causing general irritation, abnormally dry vaginal tissues can prompt an uncomfortable burning or itching sensation in your genital area that’s difficult to alleviate. 

Painful intercourse

Given that GSM usually makes vaginal tissues drier and more delicate, it’s only natural that many women also experience decreased lubrication during sex, which often makes intercourse uncomfortable or even painful, and may prompt light bleeding afterward.  

Urinary incontinence

GSM can also affect your urinary tract, causing urinary incontinence (UI), or involuntary urinary leakage. UI may take the form of a sudden urge to urinate that can’t always be controlled, or it may involve leaking a little bit of urine when you cough, laugh, exercise, or have sex. 

Frequent UTIs

GSM is associated with chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs), which may prompt burning, frequent, or urgent urination. Although most UTIs affect the lower urinary tract (urethra and bladder), long-standing infections can spread all the way to your kidneys.

The ideal treatment solution

Until recently, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) — the personalized supplementation of reproductive hormones that your body no longer makes at the same levels — was the go-to solution for menopausal women affected by vaginal atrophy and its bothersome symptoms.

But while HRT can be quite effective for some women, it’s a short-term treatment that isn’t safe or medically appropriate for all women. And other established solutions, like using water-based lubricant for pain-free sex and taking antibiotics to treat recurrent UTIs, only address specific symptoms — not the underlying problem.  

If you’re among the countless postmenopausal women in search of a safe, noninvasive way to alleviate the symptoms of vaginal atrophy without having to take estrogen or resort to messy lubricants, look no further than MonaLisa Touch® laser therapy. 

MonaLisa Touch is a groundbreaking development in women’s vaginal, urinary, and sexual health that uses therapeutic laser energy to safely and completely revitalize your vaginal and urethral tissues.  

When inserted into your vaginal canal on a slim applicator, the laser emits gentle, uniform pulses of fractional CO2 energy that create microscopic injuries in the surrounding tissues. These painless microinjuries actively stimulate the production of fresh collagen, glycogen, and hyaluronic acid to help restore the most important elements of healthy vaginal tissue. 

On top of rejuvenating your vaginal tissues, MonaLisa Touch laser therapy also prompts the formation of new collagen, elastin, and vascularization in your urethral tissues for improved urinary control. 

After just three quick in-office treatments, MonaLisa Touch can successfully stop vaginal atrophy, reverse its effects, and restore normal vaginal function for more than 90% of women.

If you’re ready to recover your vaginal and urinary health, call our Upper West Side, New York City office today, or use the easy online tool to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rodke any time. 

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