No, I am not talking about the Veteran’s Administration, though I could make a whole other post on my Dad’s experiences with their hospitals, but I am referring to Vaginal Atrophy. Just saying the word atrophy makes me think about something old, shriveled up and ready to crumble at any minute. Something a paleontologist would dig up from some ruins along with some dinosaur bones. Here I am using that word with my vagina…. the birth canal that delivered my 2 babies…. the pleasure center for myself and my husband…. atrophied. I shudder at that word.
I was referred by my PCP to a gynecologist for severe pain and swelling in that area of my body. Never knowing if I had constant monthly yeast infections or lactobacilli infections….e coli…. I’ve had it all, but it keeps coming back month after month after month since May of this year. So, I made the appointment to see him.
Vaginal atrophy. “I can definitely see physical signs of perimenopause during your exam” Well, finally, someone who will agree with me that I am in perimenopause. With my PCP, my hormones were always “within acceptable range” Now, the actual proof. He said my vaginal walls were thinning out, it was dry in there (I call it the Sahara Desert) and I needed some help.
Vaginal atrophy, also called atrophic vaginitis, is thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to your body having less estrogen. Vaginal atrophy occurs most often after menopause, but it can also develop during breast-feeding or at any other time your body’s estrogen production declines. For many women, vaginal atrophy makes intercourse painful — and if intercourse hurts, your interest in sex will naturally decrease. In addition, healthy genital function is closely connected with healthy urinary system function. Symptoms associated with his include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal burning
- Vaginal discharge
- Genital itching
- Burning with urination
- Urgency with urination
- More urinary tract infections
- Urinary incontinence
- Light bleeding after intercourse
- Discomfort with intercourse
- Decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual activity
- Shortening and tightening of the vaginal canal
I was prescribed a vaginal cream called Estrace. Estrace is a vaginal estrogen cream. You insert this cream directly into your vagina with an applicator, usually at bedtime. Your doctor will let you know how much cream to use and how often to insert it. Typically women use it daily for one to three weeks and then one to three times a week thereafter. Although creams may offer faster relief than do other forms of vaginal estrogen, they can be messier.
So, I start my journey with estrogen cream. I’ll document it on occasion for those who are interested in how it works for me. Trust me, I’ve tried OTC Replens (see my article HERE on that fiasco) Also, please feel free to comment on your experiences, too as well.