Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy: 6 symptomatic disorders

Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy is a real pathological condition that affects half of menopausal women. Despite the frequency, the diagnosis is often late because the symptoms are not recognized immediately by women. Here is a list of ailments that deserve your attention and a visit to a gynecologist.

The scientific contents of this article have been validated by our medical staff .

During menopause, hormone levels, especially estrogen, begin to decline.

This has an impact on daily life and you may notice consequences on mood, intimate life as a couple, desire, or the change in texture of hair and skin, which become thinner and drier.

Similarly, the environment inside the vagina can change, becoming less lubricated and more fragile , thus leading to vaginal dryness, itching or pain during intercourse . These changes can also put women at risk for recurrent vaginal infections and urinary tract problems.

A picture that must not throw in despair: all this can happen if menopause in general, and intimate health in particular, are neglected.

For this reason, beyond the invitation to periodically go to the gynecologist without forgetting to write down the changes that your body faces, we invite you to keep in mind this list of symptomatic disorders of Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy. The intent is clear: if you feel someone or more of a disturbance among those indicated, it is precisely the time to book a visit.

In this post we will talk about:

  • Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy: the unknown disorder that deserves specific therapy
  • Alteration of vaginal pH and consequent recurrence of infections
  • Intimate burning
  • Intimate itching
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Dyspareunia (pain during intercourse)
  • Mild blood loss

Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy: the unknown disorder that deserves specific therapy

Doctor Alessandra Graziottin frames the problem well: “Unfortunately, today the AVV is a pathology that is still little known and underestimated even if it has very impactful consequences from the point of view of the quality of life of women – says Alessandra Graziottin, Director of the Center for Gynecology and Medical Sexology H. San Raffaele Resnati, Milan – Most women, in fact, do not know that vaginal atrophy is linked to the estrogen deficiency that occurs with advancing age and for this reason usually, if left untreated, it becomes chronic over time .

Unlike other symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, vulvo-vaginal atrophy is a condition that in most cases will tend to worsen over the years if left untreated .

As many as 63% of postmenopausal women think that the ailments “will pass with age”, consequently few ask for help from the gynecologist for specific therapy “.

Alteration of vaginal pH and consequent recurrence of infections

The vaginal pH in women is less than 4.5 and reflects the production of lactic acid by the flora of lactobacilli. This mildly acidic environment helps make the vagina an “inhospitable” place for bacteria and fungi that fail to grow.

In menopause and, even more so in postmenopause, the vaginal pH can increase up to over 6 due to the reduction of the endogenous colony of lactobacilli , as a consequence of a decrease in glycogen, and a thinning of the vaginal epithelium. For this reason, there is a greater risk of infections and inflammation in menopause.

As well as cystitis , vaginal infections caused by bacteria or fungi (candida is typical) are also uncomfortable “travel companions”. In particular, candida infection is particularly widespread during the fertile age but can also occur in menopause often in a relapsing form.

Intimate burning

It has also happened to you other times, perhaps after an intimate relationship, to have some “irritating” consequence to remind you of the pleasant images of the previous night. But now – in menopause – it happens to you more frequently, and you don’t think the reason is a particularly intense performance …

From the next day you feel discomfort: you can’t wear tight pants, no tights and that annoyance when you sit for a long time… not to mention when you go to the bathroom.

Maybe you’ve even thought about asking your gynecologist for an opinion, but the embarrassment of talking about a problem related to your intimate life as a couple embarrasses you and that’s why you let it go. This attitude, however, does not benefit or help you overcome the problem. Furthermore, the fact of neglecting a disorder could have consequences over time, especially if it is not an isolated discomfort but often occurs.

The sensation of burning and swelling could correspond to reality: it is most likely a series of micro-lesions also (but not only) determined by the mechanical action of sexual intercourse in an environment that is not adequately lubricated .

These micro-lesions are more easily determined when the vaginal walls are thin and the natural secretions are no longer sufficient to maintain constant natural hydration.

What is that? Most likely it could be a symptom of Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy.

Intimate itching

After the burning, itching usually comes : an uncontrollable urge to scratch you, as for a mosquito bite, but the relief is not there, indeed after rubbing the part to try to calm the itching, even a painful sensation can come.

Generally , intimate itching is one of the first signs that something is wrong , along with burning. This symptom develops because the secretions that keep the vagina moist and hydrated are drastically reduced (due to hormonal changes that also affect the endocrine system) and it is therefore the sense of dryness that causes this discomfort. Also in this case scratching only worsens the situation since the epithelium, due to the effect of Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy , becomes thinner and more fragile and tends to flake easily, causing small wounds.

The fact that this symptom is also common to many infections, could initially be mistaken for something else or neglected to the point of worsening the pathological condition which, moreover, gradually worsens if not properly treated.

Vaginal dryness

After menopause, hormonal balances change. Among other functions, it is precisely these that contribute to keeping the tissues of the vagina healthy , because they keep the lubrication, the elasticity of the tissues and the acidity of the environment active and functional , a fundamental factor for a natural defense against infections.

When the female hormones decrease , the natural defenses weaken and the walls of the vagina become thinner, becoming less elastic and more fragile.

Poor lubrication, combined with more delicate and easily irritable tissues, generates discomfort and even pain, especially during intimate intercourse.

Before a real dryness problem arises as an annoying preamble to Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy , it is likely that at first you may simply feel itchy or stinging of the intimate walls.

If, in association with the itching, you notice even slight bleeding , it could be an AVV principle. In this case, a visit to your gynecologist will be important to understand exactly what it is . Sometimes, in fact, Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy, also known as atrophic vaginitis, can cause burning, pain during intimate intercourse and during normal daily activities.

Dyspareunia (pain during intercourse)

It is generally called dyspareunia a pain that accompanies the sexual act , before, during or at the end, up to two days after. As mentioned, after menopause it is a very frequent disorder but it can occur even earlier in a smaller percentage (in 12-15% of women), even if the causes are often of a different nature.

To understand the nature of dyspareunia it is important to book a visit to the gynecologist. The specialist will ask you to record and indicate the location, intensity and time of pain in order to be able to identify a more certain source of the discomfort. So you can already start paying attention to these factors.

If you feel embarrassed to talk about it with your trusted specialist , you will have to make a little effort to overcome it: think that continuing to have an active intimate life even after menopause is a very normal fact , which indeed keeps your mind and body young and thinks that dryness and dyspareunia after menopause are widespread and underestimated problems . Do not fear. It could just be a consequence of your body changing and evolving to a new stage in life.

Mild blood loss

In the initial phase of perimenopause, that is, when the woman shows the first symptoms of the transition from the fertile age to the climacteric , in some cases it is possible that – even if the menstruation has already stopped – there may be some loss of blood , usually dark in color ( Brown).

Among the most common causes  of blood loss in menopause  is Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy , a pathological condition that affects 50% of women after the age of 50 and which is still (too) little talked about.

Vulvo vaginal atrophy, also known as  atrophic vaginitis ,  affects about one in two  postmenopausal women and whose main symptoms are  vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse , burning and itching. It is still little known: 63% of women do not know that it is a chronic condition and  over 50% of gynecologists do not speak  to the patient about it. “  

L ‘ vaginal atrophy  has as its primary consequences itching and irritation, which basically depend on a sensitive  reduction of lubrication  and, especially in the case of  intimate relationships , as well as dyspareunia (pain) can happen note of the  blood loss  immediately after or during the days subsequent to the relationship.

This pathology, as the gynecologist Alessandra Graziottin also recalls: “it is  a disorder still underdiagnosed ” even if  the impact on the couple  ‘s life and on the daily life of the woman is important.

Also in this case a visit to the gynecologist can be decisive:  there are  effective treatments but an early diagnosis  is essential. Take heart and talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

(*) References

  • Nappi RE, Climacteric 2015; 18: 233-240
  • Nappi RE and Kokot-Kierepa M. Climacteric 2012; 15: 36-44
  • Nappi RE, et al. Maturitas 2013; 75: 373-379

 

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