Vaginal atrophy is a common but painful, yet treatable, condition that causes the vaginal wall to thin due to your body having less estrogen.

Just when you thought you had enough to worry about, having a “depressed” vagina is one more thing to add to the list.

Vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) is a common but painful, yet treatable, condition that causes the vaginal wall to thin due to your body having less estrogen. It occurs most often after menopause.

What are the main symptoms of vaginal atrophy?

Depending on how severe the condition is, you may experience a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Dryness
  • Burning sensation, particularly when you pee
  • Discharge
  • Itching
  • Urgency to pee
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Incontinence
  • Light bleeding after sex
  • Discomfort during sex
  • Dryness during sex
  • A shortening or tightening of the vagina
What causes the condition?

Vaginal atrophy is generally caused by a decrease in the production of the female sex hormone estrogen.

Estrogen is the main hormone that regulates a woman’s menstrual cycle and controls ovulation. It is also responsible for thickening the vaginal wall and causes it to release mucous once a girl hits puberty. So if you stop producing estrogen, the walls of your vagina can become thin and dry.

Vaginal atrophy is most common in women who have gone through the menopause, but certain cancer treatments and hormone treatments can also cause it.

Women who are smokers, who have never had a vaginal birth or do not have sex or pleasure themselves are also more at risk.

Smoking affects your blood circulation, resulting in the vagina and other tissues not getting enough oxygen. It also reduces the effects of estrogen.

How can vaginal atrophy be treated?

Vaginal moisturisers and lubricants can be used to treat dryness and help improve your sex life.

If symptoms don’t improve, over-the-counter estrogen therapy may be recommended.

Creams can be inserted into the vagina daily to restore the tissue. Estrogen tablets may also be recommended to help restore the body’s natural levels.