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What you need to know about vaginal atrophy
While menopause is a beautiful and natural part of ageing, unfortunately, it also comes with many symptoms that aren’t so pleasant.
One of these is vaginal atrophy, the thinning and drying of the vaginal wall. While vaginal atrophy is very common, it is not ‘normal’. Thankfully, there are many signs you can look out for that can help you take early action.
Remember ladies, you’re not alone and suffering in silence is the last thing you should do! So be sure to visit your favourite doctor if you experience any of the symptoms below.
What is vaginal atrophy?
Atrophy simply means “wasting away” or “shrinking.” Vaginal atrophy refers to the thinning and drying of the vaginal walls. This happens when there’s a decrease in vaginal lubrication and an increase in vaginal muscle spasms, and the tissues of the vaginal wall become thinner and less elastic.
Vaginal atrophy most often affects post-menopausal women, but it can also occur during breastfeeding or after undergoing certain medical treatments. Hormonal changes are thought to be one of the main causes of vaginal atrophy. So, anything that disrupts a woman’s hormone levels (like menopause, pregnancy, or birth control pills) can lead to this condition.
Additionally, vaginal atrophy can be caused by certain medications (like anti-estrogen drugs), so it’s important to speak with your doctor if you think this might be a factor.
It’s also worth noting that vaginal atrophy is not a normal part of ageing! If you’re experiencing any symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to your trusted doctor so you can be pain free.
Vaginal atrophy symptoms
Some of the main symptoms of vaginal atrophy to look out for are:
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain during sex
- Increased discharge
- Light bleeding
Vaginal atrophy can also lead to urinary incontinence, which is the leakage of urine when coughing, laughing, or sneezing.
Diagnosing vaginal atrophy
If you think you’re experiencing vaginal atrophy, the first step is to talk to your doctor. They usually begin by performing a pelvic exam (with your permission, of course) and asking you about your symptoms and other medical history. Based on this info, they will run some tests to rule out any potential underlying causes for vaginal atrophy. These may include blood tests or imaging scans like an ultrasound or CT scan. Easy! Right?
Once your doctor has determined that vaginal atrophy is the likely cause of your symptoms, they will likely recommend various treatments to help manage and ease any discomfort that it may be causing. Common treatments for vaginal atrophy include vaginal creams and moisturisers, oestrogen therapy, supplementary vitamins or antioxidants, and pelvic floor exercises like Kegels. Following these treatments diligently can help you feel better and enjoy a full life again!
Can vaginal atrophy be reversed?
Yes, vaginal atrophy can absolutely be reversed! There are many natural treatments for vaginal atrophy that can help to restore your vaginal health and make you feel tip-top.
These include probiotics for vaginal health, herbal supplements that replenish the vaginal ecosystem with beneficial bacteria, topical hormones to promote elasticity, and personalised nutrition plans that focus on foods and nutrients that can help to protect against vaginal atrophy.
How to prevent vaginal atrophy
There are several ways that you can prevent vaginal atrophy. One of the best strategies is to keep your vaginal tissues healthy and well-rested by avoiding activities that can irritate or overexpose them.
For example, you may want to avoid using harsh soaps or perfumed topical products (no matter how good they smell), as these can damage vaginal tissue over time. You can also help to strengthen your vaginal tissue by eating a nutritious diet rich in essential nutrients like healthy fats and probiotics.
And, of course, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day is key for maintaining vaginal health and preventing vaginal atrophy. With these simple tips, you can keep your vaginal tissues strong and healthy for years to come!
Do probiotics help vaginal atrophy?
While more research is needed, a study of 87 women shows that probiotics may help vaginal atrophy! Probiotics are live microorganisms that help balance the good bacteria that naturally live in your body. When taken in supplement form, they can help to replenish the vaginal ecosystem with beneficial bacteria, which can promote vaginal health and prevent vaginal atrophy. Probiotics may also help to reduce vaginal dryness, itching, and burning.
Vaginal atrophy is a common condition that many experience with menopause. But while it’s common, you should never suffer in silence, especially considering vaginal atrophy is both preventable and treatable.
Following these simple lifestyle changes at any age will help you keep your vagina happy and healthy:
- Incorporating a daily probiotic to encourage healthy vaginal bacteria
- Using a vaginal lubricant during sex to help reduce friction
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet
- Avoiding harsh soaps or cleansers on the vaginal area
- Using condoms during sex to protect the vaginal tissues from irritation
- Quitting smoking, which can help improve blood flow to the vagina
- Changing underwear regularly and wearing breathable cotton
- Using a natural and fragrance-free washing product for your clothes
Take control of your vaginal healthVaginal health may feel like a taboo topic, but Arravite is proactively fighting the stigma to normalise the conversation around women’s health.
If you’re curious about taking flora probiotics to support your vaginal health, check out our Microflora Probiotic Range.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Supplements may only be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate. Do not use if cap seal is broken.