Vulvar and Vaginal Skin Changes

Changes in vaginal and vulvar tissue can often occur with age and menopause. This can result in uncomfortable sensation with activity and with intercourse. We encourage you to reach out to the physicians at Brookside Gynecology to evaluate and treat your symptoms so that you may resume your activities with comfort and maintain your sexual health and quality of life. There are a range of therapies available that are safe and effective. Please see the information and links below then reach to Brookside Gynecology for a personalized approach to this common issue.

Vaginal Dryness and Atrophic Changes

Vaginal atrophy, also known as atrophic vaginitis or genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), refers to the thinning, drying, and inflammation of the vaginal walls. It is a common condition that often occurs during and after menopause when estrogen levels decline. It can also occur at other times of life triggered by hormonal changes or treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy.

Here are some key points about vaginal atrophy:

  • Causes: Vaginal atrophy is primarily caused by a decrease in estrogen levels. Estrogen helps maintain the thickness, elasticity, and lubrication of the vaginal walls. Other factors that can contribute to vaginal atrophy include certain medications, breastfeeding, cancer treatments, surgical removal of the ovaries, and certain medical conditions that affect hormone levels.
  • Symptoms: The symptoms of vaginal atrophy can vary but commonly include:
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Vaginal itching or irritation
    • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)
    • Vaginal burning or soreness
    • Urinary symptoms, such as frequent urination or urinary tract infections
  • Diagnosis: Vaginal atrophy is usually diagnosed based on symptoms, medical history, and a physical examination. Your healthcare provider may perform a pelvic examination to assess the condition of the vaginal tissues and may ask about your symptoms and medical history.
  • Treatment: The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and improve the health of the vaginal tissues. Treatment options may include:
    • Vaginal Moisturizers: These are non-hormonal, water-based products that can be used regularly to moisturize the vaginal tissues and provide relief from dryness.
    • Vaginal Lubricants: These are used to reduce friction and discomfort during sexual activity. They are typically applied before intercourse.
    • Low-Dose Vaginal Estrogen Therapy: For women who can use estrogen safely, low-dose vaginal estrogen therapy, such as vaginal creams, rings, or tablets, can be effective in restoring vaginal health by replenishing estrogen levels locally. This treatment is usually used for a short duration and under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
    • Non-Hormonal Options: In some cases, non-hormonal treatments such as certain medications or laser therapy may be recommended to alleviate symptoms.
    • Lifestyle Modifications: Practicing good vaginal hygiene, wearing cotton underwear, avoiding harsh soaps or douches, and using warm water for cleansing can help minimize discomfort and irritation.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and to discuss the most suitable treatment options for your specific situation. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your symptoms, medical history, and individual needs.

Vaginal Rejuvenation

Performed by gynecologists that you know and trust, a specialized vaginal CO2 laser is used to revitalize the vaginal mucosa to improve elasticity, moisture, and flexibility. This treatment is helpful in menopause and at other times in a woman’s life when vaginal estrogen is not adequate or appropriate.