Valentin Tureanu, MD, NCMP
Reproductive Endocrinologist & Certified Menopause Practitioner located in Chicago, IL & Downers Grove, IL
Vaginal atrophy affects millions of women in or near menopause, causing structural changes in the vagina that can result in an array of unpleasant symptoms. As a trusted and experienced gynecologist and certified menopause practitioner, Dr. Valentin Tureanu is skilled in helping women in Chicago and Downers Grove, Illinois, find the ideal treatment option to help relieve the symptoms of vaginal atrophy so they can lead healthier, more comfortable lives. To learn more about vaginal atrophy or to have your symptoms evaluated, call the office, or schedule your office visit online today.
What is vaginal atrophy?
Normally, your vagina produces fluids that help keep it flexible, elastic, and firm. The production of these fluids depends on a healthy supply of the hormone estrogen. As you near menopause, your estrogen levels drop significantly, making it difficult for your vagina to produce the natural lubrication it needs to stay healthy. Over time, the vagina becomes thin, brittle, irritated, dry, and inflamed - a condition called vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis.
Women who have vaginal atrophy tend to experience uncomfortable symptoms that can interfere with daily activities and take a toll on their overall quality of life. Unfortunately, many women accept these symptoms as part of “getting older,” when actually, there are several relatively simple treatment options that can help them feel better.
Vaginal atrophy can also occur after radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer or after oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries). Smoking can increase your risk for vaginal atrophy, and you’re also at greater risk if you’ve never given birth vaginally and if you don’t engage in sexual activity (with or without a partner).
What symptoms are associated with vaginal atrophy?
Vaginal atrophy causes symptoms like:
- Burning, itching, or discomfort in or around the vagina
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain during intercourse
- Light bleeding after intercourse
- Vaginal discharge
- Increased urgency to urinate
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Increased risks for urinary tract infections (UTIs) and vaginal infections
- Tightening or shrinking of the vaginal canal
Symptoms may be relatively mild at first, becoming more severe as time passes without treatment.
How is vaginal atrophy diagnosed?
Diagnosis begins with a review of your medical history and your symptoms, followed by a pelvic exam to examine your vagina. Dr. Tureanu often performs an acid balance test, which uses a sample of your vaginal fluid to evaluate its acidity level. If you have urinary symptoms, you’ll also take a urine test.
How does the gynecologist treat vaginal atrophy?
Several treatment options are available for vaginal atrophy, including:
- Special moisturizers applied directly to the vagina to help restore moisture in the tissues
- Lubricants used during sex to reduce friction and make sex more comfortable and pleasurable
- Topical estrogen creams to promote the production of natural lubricants in the vagina
- Systemic estrogen treatments using pills, patches, or other methods
If you opt for an estrogen product, you’ll have regular blood tests to monitor your estrogen levels so your treatments stay optimized for your needs.
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