Atrophic vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina and its mucous membrane, not associated with a bacterial or fungal infection. Atrophic vaginitis is also known as menopause vaginitis: during menopause, a woman experiences inevitable hormonal fluctuations in which the levels of estrogen and progesterone are extremely low, but the doses of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) show high values. However, the disease can also occur outside the climacteric period: women often complain of discomfort characteristic of atrophic vaginitis during breastfeeding or after surgical removal of the ovaries.
Causes of Atrophic Vaginitis
Official medicine believes that atrophic vaginitis is caused by a decrease in estrogen levels due to:
- radiation therapy;
- the influence of drugs for the treatment of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast cancer.
Symptoms of atrophic vaginitis
With atrophic vaginitis, the mucous membrane of the vagina becomes thinner, more fragile, more prone to risk of infectious attacks. The characteristic symptoms of the disease are: burning sensation and dryness of the vagina, painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), urinary incontinence, frequent urination, vaginal discharge (leucorrhoea), bleeding after intercourse, vaginal itching. The intensity of the manifestations of the disease can vary quite widely from patient to patient. Sometimes vaginal atrophy occurs so slowly that a woman does not notice any symptoms until 5-10 years after the onset of menopause.
The hypothesis regarding the diagnosis of atrophic vaginitis is verified with the data of a gynecological examination,vaginal smear and urinalysis.
Risk factors for atrophic vaginitis
An important place among the factors predisposing to atrophic vaginitis is smoking. Smoking harms normal blood microcirculation, partially depriving tissue of normal oxygen microcirculation. A decrease in the microcirculation of oxygen in the vagina favors atrophic vaginitis. In addition, smoking interferes with the normal synthesis of estrogen. Scientists have proven that menopause begins earlier in women smokers than in non-smokers.
Another interesting scientific observation: mothers who gave birth by cesarean section are more prone to vaginal atrophy than those who gave birth naturally (vaginally).
Therapy of atrophic vaginitis
Atrophic vaginitis is usually subject to targeted estrogen therapy. The most recommended for these purposes are: estradiol, norethindrone, esterified estrogens. Local creams and vaginal suppositories are also used.