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What causes vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy?



What causes vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy?
Vaginal atrophy is the medical term that refers to the thinning of the wall of the vagina that occurs during menopause (the time when menstrual periods have ceased) in women. Prior to menopause, the vaginal lining appears plump, bright red, and moist. As estrogen levels decline, the lining of the vagina becomes thinner, drier, light pink to bluish in color, and less elastic. This is a normal change that is noticed by many perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.
Estrogen levels begin to fall as the menopause approaches. Estrogens are mainly produced by the ovaries. Estrogens control the development of female body characteristics such as the breasts, body shape, and body hair. Estrogens also play a significant role in the regulation of the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.

Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can occur earlier or later in life. The average age of menopause is 51 years old. Every woman is different, and there is no definitive way to predict when an individual woman will enter menopause. Also, women in the menopausal transition experience symptoms with different degrees of severity. Not all perimenopausal and postmenopausal women will have the same symptoms or have symptoms that are equally severe.


What symptoms can be associated with vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy?

Other vaginal symptoms that are commonly associated with vaginal atrophy include vaginal dryness, itching, irritation, and/or pain with sexual intercourse (known as dyspareunia). The vaginal changes also lead to an increased risk of vaginal infections.

In addition to the vaginal symptoms, women may experience other symptoms of the menopausal transition. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, fatigue, urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, acne, memory problems, and unwanted hair growth are all symptoms that have been reported by women experiencing menopause.