The thinning, dryness, and inflammation of the vaginal walls known as vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) happens when your body produces less estrogen. It most frequently occurs after menopause.
Vaginal atrophy causes uncomfortable urinary symptoms as well as painful erections in many women. Doctors refer to vaginal atrophy and its accompanying symptoms as “Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM)” because the illness affects both vaginal and urinary symptoms.
There are easy-to-use, efficient therapies for GSM which can improve the symptoms caused by low estrogen levels.
Signs and symptoms of the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) include:
- Vaginal discharge
- Itchiness of the vagina
- Dry vagina
- Urinary urgency
- Urinary incontinence
- Feeling of urination more often
- A urinary tract infections that recurs
- Burning sensation of the vagina or when urination
- Light bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Feeling uncomfortable during intercourse
- Tightening and decreased length of the vaginal canal
- Less lubrication of the vagina during sexual intercourse
GSM is a common postmenopausal woman’s condition. Usually women may decide to accept their symptoms and avoid talking about them with their doctor out of embarrassment.
If you experience any unexplained vaginal bleeding, odd discharge, burning, or pain, schedule a visit with your doctor.
Also schedule a visit with your doctor if your painful erections do not subside after using a vaginal moisturizer.
The menopausal genitourinary condition is brought on by a reduction in estrogen production. Your vaginal tissues become drier, more brittle, less elastic, and thinner as your estrogen levels decline.
There could be a reduction in estrogen levels when:
- Surgical removal of ovaries causing menopause
- Taking medicines that disturbs estrogen levels (e.g., birth control pills)
- Cancer treatment (post pelvic radiation or chemotherapy or a hormonal treatment for breast cancer)
You can start to experience GSM signs and symptoms in the years before menopause, or you might wait until you are far into menopause before they start to affect you. Even though it’s a frequent illness, GSM doesn’t affect all menopausal women. You may maintain healthy vaginal tissues by engaging in regular sexual activity.
The majority of women who develop vaginal atrophy are those who are over 50 and going through menopause.
GSM has the following risk factors:
- Smoking. Smoking has an impact on blood circulation, which could result in less blood and oxygen reaching the vagina and other adjacent areas. Smoking also lessens the impact of your body’s natural estrogens.
- No vaginal births. Researchers have found that women who have never given birth vaginally are more prone than those who have to experience GSM symptoms.
- No sexual activity. Both with and without a partner, sexual activity stimulates blood flow and makes the tissues in your vagina more elastic.