Monday, December 28, 2015

Atrophic Vaginitis

Atrophic vaginitis is a common problem in postmenopausal women.  It is the result of low estrogen levels in the vagina.  Without appropriate levels of estrogen the “good bacteria” (lactobacillus) counts decline sometimes resulting in elevation of bad bacteria.  This increases the likelihood of recurrent bladder infections.  Lubrication  of the vagina dramatically decreases with lower estrogen levels and the lining becomes thin and inflamed.  This leads to pain with intercourse.  Painful sex is often the leading symptom that prompts women to seek treatment. 

While atrophic vaginitis is most commonly a problem with postmenopausal women it may also occur transiently in breast feeding women.  It could also be a significant problem in women with a history of cancer following chemotherapy or pelvic radiation.  Both result in potential damage to the ovaries.
With declining ovarian function comes declining estrogen levels followed by atrophic vaginitis.

Initially women are able to manage this with :
1.       Vaginal moisturizers (Replens or Vagisil)
2.       Vaginal lubricant (glycerin-free versions of Astroglide, K-Y Intrigue, others)
3.       Vaginal Ph balancing gels ( Refresh, Luvena)

For some women this may be all that is needed.  For many the problem progresses and requires medical therapy.  The most common therapy is local estrogen cream, tablets or an estrogen ring that is placed in the vagina.   Local estrogen therapy is highly effective when used continuously and regularly.  For those who find the current treatment options ineffective or would like to avoid hormones and drugs; there are new and innovative procedures to combat this problem. 

Quick and painless in-office procedures that provide CO2 laser therapy or RF energy to the vaginal tissues to rejuvenate them are now available.  Two such procedures; Femilft and ThermiVA are offered at Minnesota Women’s Care.

Each procedure is provided through 3 short sessions separated 4 weeks apart.  It’s relatively painless and no anesthesia or painkillers are required.  Before a woman is allowed to take part in the procedure she must undergo the customary pelvic exam.  If all checks out alright the procedures can be performed.  They provide energy to the vaginal surfaces that result in increased collagen formation and lubrication.  Most women report decreased pain with sex, more enjoyable sex, decreased urinary leakage and less frequent bladder infections. 

For the woman suffering from this condition following menopause, radiation or chemotherapy Femilft or ThermiVA procedures can be a life line.  To learn more contact us at Minnesota Women’s Care 651-600-3035.