Atrophic vaginitis, also known as vaginal atrophy, is an inflammation that occurs in the vaginal canal due to low estrogen production, which makes the lining of the vagina thinner and drier, leading to symptoms such as dryness, itching or vaginal irritation, and pain during intimate contact.
Atrophic vaginitis is more common during menopause and is called genitourinary menopausal syndrome. However, other conditions that lead to low estrogen production can also cause atrophic vaginitis, such as the postpartum period, breast-feeding, surgery to remove the ovaries or use of drugs to treat cancer, for example.
The treatment of vaginal atrophy should be guided by the gynecologist who may indicate the administration of estrogen, topical or oral, to relieve symptoms and prevent the occurrence of other diseases, such as vaginal infections or urinary problems.
Atrophic vaginitis can lead to symptoms both in the intimate region and in the urinary system, the most common of which are:
- Vaginal dryness;
- Burning sensation in the vagina;
- Vaginal itching or irritation;
- Pain or bleeding during intimate contact;
- Thin, liquid vaginal discharge;
- Yellowish, foul-smelling discharge;
- Pain or burning when urinating;
- Urinate frequently;
- Stress urinary incontinence;
- Blood in the urine.
In addition, it is normal for the vaginal pH to also be higher than normal, which can increase the risk of developing recurrent urinary infections or damage to the vaginal tissue. Learn to identify the symptoms of urinary tract infection.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of atrophic vaginitis is made by the gynecologist through the analysis of symptoms and gynecological examination.
In addition, the doctor may order some tests such as pap smear, urinalysis or hormone levels, ultrasound, or vaginal pH analysis.
Atrophic vaginitis is caused by low production of estrogen, which is a hormone produced by the ovaries, responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle, protecting the vaginal mucosa and stimulating the production of vaginal secretions.
Some conditions that can cause low estrogen production and consequently atrophic vaginitis are:
- Post childbirth;
- Uncontrolled diabetes;
- Surgery to remove the ovaries;
- Lack of intimate contact;
- severe stress;
- Pelvic radiotherapy;
- Immune diseases;
- Hypothalamic dysfunction;
Atrophic vaginitis can also manifest in women undergoing hormonal treatments for breast cancer, with the use of drugs such as tamoxifen, anastrozole, letrozole, exemestane or fulvestrant, for example. Also know other types of vaginitis and their causes.
How is the treatment done?
The treatment of atrophic vaginitis should be guided by the gynecologist who may indicate the application of topical estrogens in the form of a cream or vaginal tablets, such as estradiol, estriol or promestriene. In some cases, the doctor may also prescribe the use of tablets, orally, or the application of transdermal patches to the skin.
Also, to reduce discomfort during intimate contact, the doctor may recommend the use of vaginal lubricants.
In cases of urinary tract infection, the doctor may recommend the use of antibiotics to fight the bacteria or painkillers to relieve pain or discomfort when urinating. See how urinary tract infections are treated.
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