Approximately 40% of women experience vaginal discomfort during perimenopause and 60% of postmenopausal women experience it.
But chances are that your mom didn't tell you anything about this menopause symptom - talking about problems "down there" wasn't done much in your mother’s generation.
In fact, many women today still avoid talking about this symptom. It is for this reason that vaginal discomfort has been called the silent menopause symptom.
In addition to the physical pain and day to day discomfort associated with this symptom, a study involving thousands of menopausal women found that 58% of the women said that it is the major reason why they avoid intimacy during and after menopause.
Doctors refer to vaginal discomfort and other related vaginal problems experienced during menopause as vaginal atrophy.
What is vaginal atrophy
Vaginal atrophy is a condition in which the vaginal wall gets thinner and becomes inflamed. It occurs during menopause because there is a reduction in levels of estrogen in your body.
Declining levels of estrogen during perimenopause cause the tissues of the vulva and the lining of the vagina to become thinner, drier, and less elastic. Vaginal secretions are reduced, resulting in decreased lubrication.
The symptoms of vaginal atrophy include vaginal burning, itching, dryness and irritation. Intercourse can become painful as a result, which often leads to a decrease in sexual interest and activity.
Unfortunately, vaginal problems do not go away after menopause. If they are left untreated, they worsen.
As you approach menopause (final period) as well as during postmenopause, you can expect the walls of your vagina to become thinner, more fragile, and less elastic. The color becomes a pale pink, reflecting a lack of blood supply. It loses the quality of being open, expanded, or unblocked. This is caused by low levels of estrogen after menopause.
Dr Wulf Utian, founding president of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) and a leading OB-GYN, says that by age 75 that two out of every three women are affected by vaginal discomfort.
How to relieve vaginal discomfort and the other symptoms of vaginal atrophy
Most conventional medicine and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners agree that estrogen therapy relieves vaginal discomfort and other symptoms associated with vaginal atrophy.
CAM practitioners treat vaginal atrophy symptoms with bio-identical estrogen, which provides safe and effective relief from vaginal discomfort.
Conventional medicine practitioners will often prescribe synthetic estrogen therapy to treat vaginal discomfort, in the form of an oral pill, vaginal cream, or vaginal ring.
Many women however are averse to hormone therapy of any kind. If you are averse to taking hormones, there is a non-hormonal treatment that relieves vaginal atrophy symptoms. It is called the "Mona Lisa Touch."
The Mona Lisa Touch treatment
The Mona Lisa Touch is a treatment that is performed by a minimally invasive laser procedure. It is permanent and allows you to fight the alterations of the internal vaginal tissues related to the depletion of estrogen in your body. It regenerates and "rejuvenates" the vaginal tissue to a healthy state. It allows you to avoid the use of hormones or traditional and more invasive surgical procedures.
The procedure is virtually painless and takes only a few minutes with no downtime. Many patients report a noticeable increase in vaginal lubrication and elasticity after the first treatment. For optimal results a course of 3 sessions is recommended spaced 6 weeks apart, with maintenance treatments once every year or as needed.
The treatment has been used successfully in Europe for the last 8 years. In 2014 the Mona Lisa Touch was approved by the FDA as a treatment in the US to relieve vaginal atrophy symptoms. It is the only approved laser treatment for vaginal problems.
This post has been reproduced with the permission of Menopause Matters.
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