Atrophic vaginitis, also known as vaginal atrophy, combines atrophy with vaginal inflammation due to disruption of normal microflora in the female genital area. It results in dryness, thinning and redness in the vagina and the skin around it. This is a complex condition caused by decreased levels of estrogen, usually after menopause. It is also observed after gynecological procedures (such as ovarian removal), postnatally, during breastfeeding periods, as well as while undergoing antiestrogen therapies, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Women suffering from atrophic vaginitis have a greater chance of chronic vaginal infections and urinary tract problems. Also, atrophic vaginitis can lead to painful sexual intercourse. Up to 40% of postmenopausal women may experience atrophic vaginitis.

Symptoms of atrophic vaginitis

Atrophic vaginitis is a common condition. In some women, symptoms may occur shortly before or during the years leading to menopause. In other women, symptoms may not occur until years later or never, and may include:

  • thinning of the vaginal walls

  • shrinkage of the vagina

  • vaginal dryness

  • Inflammation

  • occasional bleeding

  • vaginal secretions

  • itching of the vulva

  • discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse

  • urination with pain or burning sensation

  • more frequent infections of the urinary tract

  • incontinence

Cause of atrophic vaginitis

The cause of atrophic vaginitis is the reduction of estrogen in the body. Without estrogen, vaginal tissue becomes thinner, dryer, more fragile and easier to injure.

Atrophic vaginitis risk factors

Some women are more likely than others to experience atrophic vaginitis. Women who give birth by cesarean section are more prone to this condition. In addition, smokers tend to enter menopause earlier than non-smokers, as smoking overloads the bloodstream, reduces blood flow and limits the amount of oxygen to it.

Possible complications

The most common complications of atrophic vaginitis are:

  • bacterial and fungal infections of the vagina

  • changes in the acidic environment of the vagina

  • abrasions of the vaginal wall

  • ulcers in the vaginal walls

  • risk of urinary tract atrophy

  • bleeding during intercourse

Diagnosis of vaginal atrophy

Visit your doctor if you experience unusual vaginal bleeding, burning sensation, pain or dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse) even with lubrication to avoid possible complications.

Your doctor will ask you about your health history. He may ask you what kind of products you use for the sensitive area, for example, some fragrances, soaps, deodorants, lubricants or spermicides can aggravate the condition. He can also perform a pelvic examination and / or examine your genitals for physical symptoms of atrophy, such as:

  • pale, smooth vaginal lining

  • loss of elasticity

  • thinned pubic hair

  • thin external genitalia

  • stretching of the support tissue of the uterus

  • prolapse of the pelvic organ (bumps in the vaginal wall)

and recommend you further examinations.

Prevention and lifestyle

Some minor changes in your lifestyle can limit or even prevent the onset of symptoms. The use of loose cotton clothing and underwear allows for better air circulation around the genitals, making them the least ideal environment for bacterial growth. In addition, the good general defense of the body also improves vaginal response to pathogenic microorganisms, so factors such as diet, rest, alcohol consumption, smoking, and sexual activity can play their part. Regular sexual activity can also help prevent symptoms of atrophic vaginitis. Sexual contact strengthens the bloodstream to the vagina and stimulates natural moisture, which keeps the genitalia healthier for longer.

Treatment of atrophic vaginitis

You can improve your vaginal health and your quality of life. Treatment can focus on the symptoms or the underlying cause, aiming at:

  • replacement of low levels of estrogen by Hormone Replacement Treatment (topical or oral).

  • reduction (or even extinction) of local irritation during sexual intercourse with the use of local lubricants.

  • hydration of the vagina.

Estrogen administration should be done with extreme caution as side effects such as thrombosis and risk of heart attack or stroke have been observed. Moreover, patients with liver disease, uterine and breast cancer or hypertension are not allowed to take estrogen. In addition, vaginal use of estrogens in women during the lactation period is not allowed.

The use of local lubricants to reduce or eliminate local irritation during sexual intercourse has an extremely short effect.

Local moisturizers can be of great help in treating atrophic vaginitis. It is the appropriate option for women who do not wish to undergo Hormone Replacement Treatment.

Try using a local moisturizer to restore the natural ecosystem of the vagina. A product with a high contentration of hyaluronic acid can provide long-lasting, in-depth hydration of the vaginal mucosa and effectively treat the disturbing symptoms of atrophic vaginitis.

Hyaluronic acid is a natural component of the human body and helps hydration and restoration of the natural vaginal ecosystem. GYNORM is a gynecological high-purity gel. Its high concentration in sodium hyaluronate (5 ml by volume) and high molecular weight (over 2,000,000 Daltons) make it the top choice for the treatment of vaginal dryness and long-term relief of irritation, itching, burning sensation and pain without any side effects.

GYNORM is sold in selected pharmacies and is indicated for atrophic and dystrophic vaginal conditions due to estrogen deficiency, as well as other cases of vaginal dryness and associated symptoms (due to frequent enema, syringe procedures, gastric disorders, administration of antibiotic, hormones or contraceptives, etc). It is very easy to use. The recommended dose for vaginal mucosal dryness is 5 ml, 1-2 times a day, until the symptoms are relieved.

GYNORM is manufactured in Italy (CE) by Diaco Biofarmaceutici and represented in Greece by BlueMed Healthcare Products.