Atrophic Vaginitis: Dry, Irritated, Inflamed Vaginal Tissue
Vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina) and vaginal dryness are common complaints for women around perimenopause and menopause. As hormones like estrogen and testosterone decline, the health of the vaginal tissue suffers. This results in thinning of the skin, decreased lubrication, and increased friction with intercourse or inserting a tampon. Even walking can become irritating. Atrophic vaginitis refers to inflammation of the vagina due to atrophy or weakening of the vaginal tissue that is usually associated with the hormonal decline at menopause. Vaginal dryness can also occur in 3-5% of users of certain low dose birth control pills.
The irritated tissue can become more susceptible to infection, sore, raw, and sometimes bleeding. Intercourse becomes less desirable because of the associated pain, which can cause relationship difficulties.
What is the Natural Treatment for Vaginitis or Vaginal Dryness?
Natural treatment for atrophic vaginitis involves:
The use of vaginal lubricants (preferably something natural like coconut oil) can help reduce inflammation and prevent friction.
Supporting optimal hormone production even into menopause can help maintain vaginal tissue health. Vitamins, minerals, diet, and herbs can be used to balance hormones and support hormone-sensitive tissue health.
Healing and Soothing
Vitamin A, vitamin E and calendula can be used topically to help heal and soothe vaginal tissue
Treatment of secondary infections and restoration of healthy probiotic bacteria that should populate the vagina keeps the tissue healthy.
Tests for atrophic vaginitis
If the woman’s menopausal status is uncertain, the following testing can be done Day 3: LH, FSH, estradiol, day 21: progesterone, any time: total testosterone, and DHEAs. A vaginal swab should be done if infection with yeast, trichomonas, or Gardnerella is suspected. A PAP smear and ultrasound should be done in the event of any abnormal vaginal or uterine bleeding.
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Vaginitis or Vaginal Dryness Research
Bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and vulvovaginal candidiasis are the most common infectious causes of vaginitis… Atrophic vaginitis, a form of vaginitis caused by estrogen deficiency, produces symptoms of vaginal dryness, itching, irritation, discharge, and dyspareunia. Both systemic and topical estrogen treatments are effective. Allergic and irritant contact forms of vaginitis can also occur.
Source: Am Fam Physician. 2011 Apr 1;83(7):807-15. Vaginitis. Hainer BL, Gibson MV.