General Illness Information
Medical Term: Atrophic vaginitis
Common Name: Vaginal dryness
Description: Vaginal dryness, or atrophic vaginitis, is an irritation caused by thinning of the walls and wrinkling of the vaginal tissues, and a decrease in the amount of natural lubricant released from them.
- hormonal imbalance, which can develop against the background of approaching menstruation, pregnancy or the postpartum period, reception of incorrectly selected hormonal contraceptives;
- diseases of the female genital tract, infection of the urinary tract or vagina, venereal diseases, genital herpes, neoplasms, uterine myoma and endometriosis;
- dermatological disorders;
- complete absence of sex or irregular sexual relations;
- immune disorders;
- surgical interventions, mainly on the urogenital system on the cervix, removal of the ovaries (which also causes hormonal changes), taking certain medications and medical manipulations: antibiotics, antidepressants, drugs for chemotherapy, hormonal drugs;
- use of cosmetic and hygiene products in the genital area: soaps, gels, foams containing hard alkali, which destroys the natural level of acidity, perfumes and dyes, chemical and synthetic ingredients for intimate use can cause allergy and irritation of the mucosa (incl. flavored condoms, toilet paper);
- smoking, which affects blood circulation throughout the body and the genitals in particular.
Signs & Symptoms:
- itching in the region of the external genitalia (especially pronounced itching of the labia minora);
- itching inside the vaginal tract;
- discomfort in normal life against the background of a decrease in the number of secretions;
- burning of the perineum, vaginal vestibule;
- pain due to vaginal dryness during intercourse;
- the appearance of cracks, wounds on the surface of the mucous membrane, causing itching, irritation;
- infection of the wound, the development of the inflammatory process with its inherent symptoms.
If the causes of vaginal dryness are associated with atrophic colpitis, the clinical picture may include frequent urination (due to irritation, atrophy and inflammation of the urethra tissues), burning with urination, decreased efficiency, deterioration of well-being. A woman with a vaginal dryness often refuses to have sex life, as this brings her discomfort, pain and other painful sensations.
Vaginal dryness is a condition detected with a complaint of the patient herself. If a woman does not experience any discomfort, she is unlikely to be diagnosed with vaginal dryness. During diagnostic procedures, the doctor examines the history, clarifies whether there were factors that could lead to dryness and, if possible, recommends the exclusion of their effects and normal sexual relations.
Gynecological examination and laboratory diagnostics are necessary to exclude more serious diseases, as well as to identify the causes of discomfort. These are tests for the presence of infectious agents, a Pap smear to test cells from the vaginal or cervical wall, and also to study hormonal status.
Vaginal dryness due to low estrogen levels is treated with topical preparations. These drugs can eliminate local symptoms, but are not absorbed into the blood.
Topical preparations include:
- The vaginal ring is inserted into the vagina and constantly releases estrogen into the surrounding tissues. The ring should be changed every three months;
- The vaginal tablet is inserted into the vagina and is there for the first two weeks. Then the tablets are inserted twice a week;
- The vaginal cream is inserted into the vagina with the help of an applicator. The frequency of use depends on the specific preparation. Natural vaginal creams are the most effective, popular and safe.
However, any estrogen preparations may cause have side effects, such as bleeding from the vagina and pain in the mammary glands. Topical products are not recommended for use with:
- Breast cancer, especially when using aromatase inhibitors;
- Endometrial cancer in the anamnesis;
- Vaginal bleeding in an anamnesis, the cause of which is not established;
- Pregnancy and lactation.
For additional moisturizing the vagina, you can use lubricants. Combined with long caresses they are the key to a full sexual intercourse. Forget about syringing, do not take a bath and do not use scented soap and lotions – all this increases vaginal dryness.
- daily hygienic shower with washing, however without irritating hygienic preparations (for intimate areas it is necessary to use special means purchased in pharmacies with a minimum content of chemical components);
- use of sanitary napkins in the presence of vaginal discharge, however, they must be changed every 4-6 hours, it is preferable to use sanitary napkins, and not tampons due to their minimal interaction with the reproductive organs;
- it is preferable to use non-flavored hygiene products, toilet paper, contraceptives, lubricants (water-based);
- underwear should be changed regularly, and preference should be given to natural tissues;
- use the most simple detergents for washing underwear (without perfume and dyes), simple household soap, and not rinse, conditioner, etc.;
- reduce the consumption of spicy, pickled, salted, spicy, tinned foods, easily digestible carbohydrates, alcoholic beverages;
- focus on vitamins and minerals, consume fruits, vegetables, berries, freshly squeezed juices, cereals, whole grains;
- consume products containing phytoestrogens (substances that are similar in their action to female sex hormones) – beans, soybeans, lentils, rice, apples, pomegranates, carrots, cabbage, red grapes, cherries, dates, parsley, nuts, sunflower seeds, olive oil;
- consume polyunsaturated fats – sea fish, seeds, nuts, vegetable oils;
- drink large amounts of liquid – up to 2 liters of water a day;
- have a high-grade sexual activity that normalizes a hormonal background.