Vaginal dryness, itching, irritation, and/or pain with sexual intercourse (know as dyspareunia) are common symptoms associated with vaginal atrophy. Changes in the vagina can also lead to an increased risk of various vaginal infections.
Vaginal atrophy is how medically we describe the thinning of the wall of the vagina that occurs during menopause which is officially pronounced after the ceasing of periods for more than 12 months. Whilst the normal condition of the vagina is moist, red and plump, once oestrogen levels decline, the lining of the vagina becomes thinner, light pink to bluish in colour, drier, and less elastic. The change starts to occur in peri menopause and is usually evident in those who have finished menopause which is called post menopause.
The majority of women will reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can occur earlier or later in life. It can last for as little as 2-5 years or with some women longer while some women have the symptoms well into old age. Oestrogen which is mostly produced by the ovaries declines as then menopause approaches. Not every woman will have the same symptoms or as severe but most will experience a number of symptoms commonly associated with the decline in hormone levels.
There are various treatments that women can try in order to keep the vagina more lubricated such as a vaginal moisturizer. These are usually available at the local pharmacy or even at the larger supermarkets. There are a number of popular brands.
Vaginal oestrogen is used effectively and this is usually prescribed by the doctor. It comes in various forms and is usually quite effective.
Bio-identical oestrogen is also prescribed by many doctors in the form of pessaries or cream.
Topical oestrogen therapy is the most common treatment for women with vaginal dryness due to low oestrogen levels. This type of therapy will replace some hormones in that are not being produced in your body. Ultimately this will help relieve vaginal symptoms, however, it will not increase the levels of oestrogen in your bloodstream as oral estrogen hormone therapy (HT).
Source: 34 Menopause Symptoms. 2017. 34 Menopause Symptoms. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.34-menopause-symptoms.com/vaginal-dryness.htm. [Accessed 10 October 2017].