Vulvovaginal atrophy VVA is a common and underreported condition associated with decreased estrogenization of the vaginal tissue. Symptoms include dryness, irritation, soreness, and dyspareunia with urinary frequency, urgency, and urge incontinence. Clinical findings include the presence of pale and dry vulvovaginal mucosa with petechiae.
The hormone fluctuations that begin in perimenopause bring about many physical changes. Similarly, regular sexual activity helps maintain vaginal flexibility and pliability, presumably because it increases blood supply to the vagina and can also have a stretching effect. Penetration may be uncomfortable or even painful, and can lead to irritation.
Postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis, or vaginal atrophy, is the thinning of the walls of the vagina caused by decreased estrogen levels. This most commonly occurs after menopause. She also stops having menstrual periods.
Up to 40 percent of postmenopausal women have symptoms of atrophic vaginitis. Because the condition is attributable to estrogen deficiency, it may occur in pre-menopausal women who take antiestrogenic medications or who have medical or surgical conditions that result in decreased levels of estrogen. The thinned endometrium and increased vaginal pH level induced by estrogen deficiency predispose the vagina and urinary tract to infection and mechanical weakness.
It happens slowly as the lining of the vagina begins to shrink or thin out. It often occurs in women during the change of life menopause. This is because women lose the hormone estrogen at that time.
Vaginal atrophy is a change of the vagina that develops when there is a significant decrease in levels of the female hormone estrogen. The condition also is called atrophic vaginitis. Estrogen, which is produced by the ovaries, plays a vital role in keeping vaginal tissues lubricated and healthy.
The physiological aging process in females accelerates after menopause, with changes occurring secondary to the cessation of estrogen production in the ovaries. While AV is a common problem, it is often overlooked. Pearson notes the importance of raising the awareness of all health care providers who care for women in their postmenopausal years regarding the considerable incidence of AV and the necessity of being proactive in questioning women about classic symptoms.
The most common symptoms of vaginal atrophy are dryness, irritation, and pain during intercourse. Although menopause is the most common cause, vaginal atrophy can result from anything that lowers estrogen production. That includes chemotherapy, radiation, removal of the ovaries during hysterectomy, and use of anti-estrogenic therapies such as aromatase inhibitors, tamoxifen Nolvadexand drugs like leuprolide Lupron and nafarelin Synarelwhich are used to treat fibroids and endometriosis.