As a woman grows older, her body undergoes several changes. These changes are not the kinds that a woman welcomes with delight. Vaginal thinning is one such change.
Vaginal Thinning – What It Is
Vaginal thinning is the wearing down of the walls of the vagina. The vaginal walls start to thin down when a woman enters her 40s.
Causes Of Vaginal Thinning
As a woman grows older, the amount of estrogen that her body produces begins to diminish. As long as a woman is in her 30s, her body produces ample amounts of estrogen to keep the vagina healthy and young. But now, with low levels of estrogen, the vagina begins to thin down, becomes less elastic and is susceptible to getting hurt easily.
Low estrogen levels are common after menopause, during breastfeeding and after cancer chemotherapy. In breast cancer hormonal treatment, low levels of estrogen are a known side effect.
The Symptoms Of Vaginal Thinning
Vaginal thinning not only affects the vagina but also the urinary tract, because of their close proximity. Therefore, symptoms that one experiences are not limited to the vagina. One of the first signs of vaginal thinning is vaginal dryness.
A woman will find that the normal vaginal discharge that was present at most times is now absent. In the arousal phase of sexual intercourse, the vagina does not get lubricated as easily as it would during previous times. Sexual intercourse is painful because of the lack of lubrication. The woman experiences pain during sexual intercourse and sometimes even otherwise.
While urinating, a burning sensation is experienced in the urethra. A feeling of urgency and wanting to pass urine, but unable to pass a satisfactory flow is another sign of vaginal thinning. If a woman is prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs), she will experience an increase in such infections. Those who are not prone to UTIs will notice that during this phase of vaginal thinning, UTIs are common.
A woman may notice that she has difficulty in holding urine and may notice a leak. Because of the thinning down, sexual intercourse becomes painful and light bleeding may be noticed after sexual intercourse. The associated dryness within the vagina makes intercourse uncomfortable. The vagina begins to shrink in size and also tightens up.
It is possible to know if you suffer from vaginal thinning. Hold a mirror near the vagina and look inside the vagina to examine the color. If it is a healthy reddish-pink color, you have a healthy vagina. If the vagina looks pale or whitish, your vagina is probably thinning.
While all women suffer from low levels of estrogen after menopause, not all of them suffer from vaginal thinning. Two risk factors that are likely to increase your chances of developing vaginal thinning are smoking and not giving birth.
Mild symptoms of thinning can be relieved by the use of lubricants. A water-based lubricant is non messy and easy to use.
Severe symptoms of vaginal thinning can be relieved with estrogen therapy. Estrogen therapy can be in the form of oral estrogen tablets, topical vaginal applications and vaginal tablets.
The safest bet would be the vaginal tablets as the vagina directly absorbs most of the estrogen and only insignificant amounts of estrogen get into the bloodstream.
Before starting on any estrogen therapy, a doctor must be consulted. A detailed history of your family and your medical history will reveal what kind of estrogen therapy will suit you.