Feb 6, 2024 Symptom Relief Wellness Tips AMC Team 28 views

Vaginal Oestrogen's Unexpected Role in Relieving Menopause Symptoms

Just when you think you’re familiar with everything menopause could throw your way, it often manages to find a new symptom to introduce into the balance. This inevitable and significant moment of transition guarantees only one thing: significant impacts on our physical, mental and emotional health as a direct result of fluctuating (sometimes daily!) hormones and largely unpredictable symptoms.

While some of menopause’s symptoms are common knowledge, such as hot flushes or night sweats, there are others that aren’t as commonly discussed, including vaginal discomfort. This symptom can cause all kinds of challenges for women throughout menopause. The more women facing menopause can be equipped with the knowledge they need to support their health throughout moments of vaginal discomfort, the lesser they need to suffer when it introduces itself into the menopausal mix.

First things first: let’s talk oestrogen

Think of oestrogen as one of the most valuable players in a female body. Responsible for orchestrating a wide range of physiological functions, oestrogen has a starring role from puberty through to menopause in how it impacts both our reproductive systems and our overall health and wellbeing.

During puberty, oestrogen is responsible for developments in breast growth, widening hips, and introducing the beginning of periods. It then follows a cyclical approach (in alignment with each menstrual cycle), where it’s responsible for particulars like:

  • The regulation of menstrual cycles
  • The health of major reproductive organs
  • Thickening of the uterine lining
  • Protecting the uterus during pregnancy
  • Supporting the growth and safety of placentas, amniotic fluid, and fetuses after conception 

Once menopause approaches, oestrogen can take a dramatic turn in its natural production levels. This is the foundation for so many of the symptoms we associate with menopause: hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats, and more.

It’s also important to note that oestrogen’s impact is far beyond reproductive health. Tied to bone health, skin health, and brain health, fluctuating oestrogen levels can have a wide-reaching impact when left unmanaged throughout menopause. Not only do lower levels of oestrogen directly correlate to the presence of daily symptoms, but they can also have an ongoing impact on areas like our bone density, our risk of osteoporosis, and ongoing changes to how our bodies regulate cholesterol levels.

Struggling with menopausal symptoms? You don’t need to navigate them alone! Reach out to the Australian Menopause Centre to find expert support and personalised treatment pathways.

Why are there vaginal changes during menopause?

To understand why vaginal discomfort can be a side effect of menopause, we need to begin with the culprit: drops in natural oestrogen levels. This is one of the most significant changes our bodies experience throughout this time, with a decrease in oestrogen having a flow-on effect across those physical, mental, and emotional changes alike. 

When it comes to vaginal discomfort, lower oestrogen levels, of course, have a direct impact. Vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort that can make sexual intercourse painful can all be tracked back to these decreased hormonal levels. These symptoms, which are commonly known as vaginal atrophy, are collectively referred to as genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) and can have profound – and unwanted – impacts on our quality of life. 

How can vaginal changes be counteracted?

If the reduction of oestrogen can cause havoc when it comes to vaginal discomfort, offsetting this reduction can serve to relieve painful and uncomfortable symptoms. 

One simple approach to counteracting menopausal changes? Introducing targeted, localised oestrogen therapy that’s designed to alleviate the symptoms of GSM (or vaginal atrophy). By directly applying oestrogen to the vagina, symptoms such as dryness, itching, or painful sex can become a bad memory, not a daily occurrence.

This treatment can come in a wide range of forms, including vaginal creams, rings, or tablets. Their application can provide a significant boost to the health of the vaginal tissues via targeted rejuvenating qualities. For many women, this can result not only in effective relief for vaginal discomfort, but also the benefits of systemic and targeted absorption of oestrogen.

What are the other benefits of oestrogen therapies?

As well as addressing the pressing issues of vaginal atrophy, this form of localised oestrogen therapy can also help to relieve some of the urinary symptoms that are often experienced during menopause. The oestrogen-sensitive nature of our urinary health means that any improvement to the health of vaginal tissues can often result in urinary function benefits at the same time.

How to take a holistic approach to relieving menopause symptoms

While targeted oestrogen therapies can provide immense relief for many women in the throes of menopause, they’re often maximised when they’re a part of a holistic approach to symptom management. Vaginal discomfort can be one of the clearest signs of menopausal symptoms – but when other symptoms are targeted at the same time, the results of any kind of treatment approach can improve dramatically.

Alongside considering oestrogen therapies to reduce the impacts of vaginal atrophy, leaning into lifestyle treatments can be one way to build that holistic, sustainable plan. A balanced diet, regular physical activity, and working closely with dedicated health professionals can all contribute to a richer and calmer menopause experience. 

It’s also important to prioritise mental and emotional health throughout your menopause years. This can be an incredibly tumultuous time, with so many changes to health and wellbeing causing significant stress on a daily basis. Counselling, support groups, or talk-based therapies can all contribute to a holistic menopause management plan, bringing alternative forms of treatment into play alongside targeted hormonal therapies. 

Conclusion

Far too many women have been led to believe that vaginal discomfort (and other symptoms) has to be a given of menopause. While these symptoms can certainly cause disruption in both the short-term and long-term, they don’t need to control the outcomes. Targeted oestrogen therapy and a holistic approach to menopause symptom management can dramatically change your menopause experience. To find support for the known and unknown impacts of menopause on your health and wellbeing, reach out to the expert team at the Australian Menopause Centre – we’re ready to support you in every element of your experience.

About The Author - AMC Team

Our team consists of doctors, nurses, program assistants, naturopaths and nutritionists that join their wealth of knowledge to offer our patients and website visitors interesting and insightful articles to assist you understand the symptoms you are experiencing and how to relieve them.

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