By Lindsey Craun, Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc.
SAN ANTONIO - Women experience many changes in their bodies during menopause. Most people think of hot flashes and mood swings, but often forget one very common, very unfortunate effect called atrophic vaginitis, or vaginal dryness. Those with vaginal atrophy often find intercourse extremely difficult or painful, leading many post-menopausal women to avoid sex altogether.
So what exactly happens during menopause to cause vaginal dryness? It’s all about the estrogen. During and after menopause, estrogen levels drastically decrease resulting in thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls. This causes dryness, which is the main symptom of atrophic vaginitis. Some women may also suffer from vaginal burning, urgency, incontinence or burning during urination, urinary tract infection, discomfort or bleeding with intercourse and tightening of the vaginal canal.
Smokers may be more likely to experience atrophic vaginitis due to its affect on blood circulation and estrogen levels. Research also suggests that women who have never given birth vaginally are at higher risk of vaginal atrophy.
Unfortunately, with vaginal dryness comes a greater risk of other vaginal and urinary problems. Vaginal atrophy causes a change in pH levels, making women more susceptible to infection. Some sufferers of vaginal dryness have also reported increased urination, frequency of urination, or burning.
Physicians perform a variety of tests and examinations to diagnose atrophic vaginitis. One option is a pelvic exam, where the doctor palpates the patient’s pelvic organs and performs a visual examination to check for any unusual bulges or stretching in or around the vaginal walls. Pap smears and urine tests are also used for diagnosis.
Once diagnosed, patients can seek treatment from an over-the-counter lubricant or moisturizer. Those who experience more bothersome symptoms might request topical or oral estrogen for relief. Estrogen therapy is thought to provide more direct relief from symptoms, and users often notice a vast improvement after a few weeks.
Clinical Trials of Texas is currently conducting a research study for Vaginal Atrophy. For further information please call (210) 949-0122 or visit http://www.SAresearch.com