What exactly do these terms mean? We find out together with our specialists.
This article was written with the collaboration of our specialists
In this article we talk about 3 similar conditions yet with some differences between them: vaginal atrophy, vulvar atrophy and vaginal dystrophy. We provide you with answers to the most common questions about similarities and differences between these conditions, but first let’s make a premise: on our pages you can find out because what we write is always checked by experts, but if you have noticed that something is wrong or you suspect that it is so because you have been feeling different for some time, you need to contact your gynecologist . In fact, only the specialist can make a precise diagnosis and identify suitable treatments for you.
Vaginal atrophy and vulvar atrophy
Vaginal Atrophy eVulvare , is a chronic and progressive disease (so “uncomfortable” because if left untreated, tends to worsen over time and become chronic), which affects 50% ofwomen in menopause and postmenopause . That is to say that 1 in 2 women suffer from it : an important series. In fact, many women experience this disorder without ever knowing exactly what it is and attributing all the pain and discomfort to a “normal” fact related to menopause, without knowing that much can be done to improve daily well-being.
In fact, very little is said about these pathologies, out of shame and embarrassment on the part of women but also for a sort of “unintentional silence”, that is, a deliberate silence of disturbances or inconveniences to the specialist (or even from the gynecologist to the patient, at times), but avoiding questioning the gynecologist may not help.
“63% of women do not know that it is a chronic condition destined to worsen with the passage of time; 75% expect doctors to start the discussion on menopause symptoms and sexual health, but the data collected suggests that this occurs only in 11% of cases “confirms Dr. Rossella Nappi , expert gynecologist in menopause, scientific director of the Onda Foundation (National Observatory on Women’s and Gender Health) .
Let’s start by saying that there is no real difference between Vaginal Atrophy and Vaginal Dystrophy . They can be understood as the expression of the same condition, even if – to be really precise – some small differences can be indicated.
Vaginal dystrophy is in fact characterized by the thinning of the intimate tissues and the loss of elasticity as a consequence of the reduced lubrication of the vaginal walls. The difference lies in the fact that the term “dystrophy” indicates a ‘ only partial atrophy of a tissue or organ , in this case of the vagina, which is the internal organ of your reproductive system. But apart from these specious things that no one will point out to you, we can safely say that both in the case of Vaginal Atrophy and in the case of Vaginal Dystrophy, we are faced with the alteration of the structure of the vaginal tissue as a result of the decrease in the production of estrogen, physiological in menopause. Symptoms can be the same as those of vulvar and vaginal atrophy, namely: dryness, itching and burning, pain in intercourse and consequent blood loss but also burning during urination and urinary incontinence .
Vaginal atrophy, vulvar atrophy and vaginal dystrophy: the solution is always the gynecologist
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If you experience one or more of these annoyances, now that you have clarified your ideas and know what it could be, do not wait: make an appointment with the gynecologist ( here you will find a list of experts in menopause ).
There is a lot that can be done (especially if you are at the first signs) to successfully treat vaginal atrophy, vulvar atrophy and vaginal dystrophy and to keep the ailments they can cause at bay but it’s all up to you . As we have already mentioned, these are conditions for which early detection can make a difference in their treatment and in the likelihood of success. Waiting for it to pass or trusting the advice of friends is a bad idea: these disorders do not resolve spontaneously and, moreover , word of mouth and do-it-yourself are always harmful to health.
To help you explain to the gynecologist what symptoms you feel and how you feel, we provide you with a valuable tool to print and take with you at the time of your medical examination: download the vaginal health checklist here that can help you find the right words to speak to your gynecologist. .
What is Vulvo-Vaginal Atrophy and how does it manifest: beware of dryness and itching
L ‘ Atrophy Vaginal and Vulvar differs in its name based on the intimate area of interest. As you know, vagina and vulva are not the same thing .
If you have any doubts you can learn more about the anatomy of your body and the changes you are going through at these links:
- how are you made : simple guide to the female genital system
- how the female genital system changes in menopause .
Atrophy causes a thinning of the intimate , vulvar and vaginal tissues , which become more fragile and less elastic, consequently they can be more exposed to the risk of tearing and bleeding (especially during intercourse). The thinning of the vaginal walls and vulvar tissues is already in itself a condition linked to menopause because it is the consequence of the reduction of natural lubrication due to the drop in hormone production.
It happens, however, that when this condition is particularly severe and also affects the vulvar area, that is the external part of the genitals (of which the vagina represents only the internal organ), it can cause the 4 main signs with which atrophy occurs. Vulvo-Vaginal :
- Vaginal dryness
- Intimate itching
- Pain in intercourse (dyspareunia)
- Blood loss
To learn more: this is our page with advice on how to manage Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy achieved with the patronage of the Italian Menopause Society (SIM) and the National Observatory on Women’s Health (Onda).