Recently I learned about a condition called Vaginal Atrophy on Better Living TV. Dubbed The Big Ow, Vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) is the thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to a decline in estrogen. Vaginal atrophy occurs most often after menopause, but it can also develop during breast-feeding or at any other time your body’s estrogen production declines.
For many women, vaginal atrophy makes intercourse painful — and if intercourse hurts, your interest in sex will naturally wane. In addition, healthy genital function is closely intertwined with healthy urinary system function.
Simple, effective treatments for vaginal atrophy are available. Reduced estrogen levels do result in changes to your body, but it doesn’t mean you have to live with the discomfort associated with vaginal atrophy.
What are the symptoms? With moderate to severe vaginal atrophy, you may experience the following vaginal and urinary signs and symptoms:
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal burning
- Burning with urination
- Urgency with urination
- More urinary tract infections
- Urinary incontinence
- Light bleeding after intercourse
- Discomfort with intercourse
- Shortening and tightening of the vaginal canal
When should you see your doctor? Make a appointment to see your doctor if you experience painful intercourse that’s not resolved by using a vaginal moisturizer (Replens, others) or water-based lubricant (Astroglide, K-Y, others), or if you have vaginal symptoms, such as unusual bleeding, discharge, burning or soreness (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-atrophy/DS00770).
Don’t suffer in silence because you are embarrassed to talk to your doctor about this. According to Queen’s obstetrics and gynecology professor Shawna Johnston, millions of women all over the world are living with tremendous and unnecessary vaginal discomfort because they’re too embarrassed to talk about it and too afraid of treatment.
Professor Johnston is a leading researcher in vaginal atrophy and also a spokesperson for The Big Ow, a campaign aimed at helping women with the condition; their website was launched in January. Professor Johnston is hoping that women will summon up the courage to say, “‘Hey, that’s what I have and I want to talk to you about it.’” You can hear her message here about this condition here.
I encourage you to visit The Big Ow which has lots of information and a self-assessment quiz you can take. If you suspect you have Vaginal Atrophy, get help. This is something that you should not ignore. Relief is within your reach. Get the treatment you need.