Atrophic Vaginitis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment


What is Atrophic Vaginitis ?

Atrophic Vaginitis is shrinkage, irritation, and dryness of the vagina caused by a change in vaginal tissue. This change happens when the level of estrogen in your body decreases. The change in vaginal tissue is called vaginal atrophy. Atrophic vaginitis can occur at any age. It most commonly occurs in women who are menopausal and in women whose ovaries have stopped making estrogen. It can also be seen in women who are breast feeding, using Depo-Provera, or have had their ovaries removed.

Atrophic vaginitis may occur :-

  • After surgical removal of both ovaries.
  • After menopause.
  • While you are producing milk for breast-feeding.

Atrophic Vaginitis Signs and Symptoms

The following symptoms can be caused by other medical conditions, but atrophic vaginitis is a common (and usually treatable) cause of these symptoms.

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Burning on urination.
  • Vulvar itching or burning.

Atrophic Vaginitis Causes

A lack or decrease in estrogen in the vulvar and vaginal areas causes atrophic vaginitis. This decrease of estrogen affects women differently. When a woman’s estrogen begins to decrease, some women will develop atrophic vaginitis.

How Atrophic Vaginitis is diagnosed

To diagnose atrophic vaginitis, your health care provider will do a pelvic exam to check the health of your vaginal tissue. Your provider may measure the level of estrogen in your vaginal tissue by taking a sample of cells (like taking a Pap smear). Your provider may also check the levels of hormones in your blood.

Treatments for Atrophic Vaginitis

Topical estrogen creams or tablets may be used vaginally. Alternatively, oral or transdermal estrogen replacement therapy may be initiated. Usually, this is effective in overcoming the problem. Women may want to discuss the risks and benefits of oral estrogen replacement therapy with their physicians. Painful sexual intercourse may be helped by using a water-soluble vaginal lubricant.


For post-menopausal women in particular, regular sexual activity, with or without a partner, is recommended. Sexual activity improves blood circulation in the vagina, which helps maintain the tissue. Some of the common steps to help reduce or prevent symptoms of atrophic vaginitis during or after menopause :-

  1. Drink plenty of liquids.
  2. Avoid wearing pantyhose until itching stops.
  3. If you still have periods or spotting, use unscented sanitary pads instead of tampons.
  4. Use a vaginal lubricant such as K-Y jelly or other water-or glycerin-based lubricant if you have mild pain during sexual intercourse. Petroleum jelly is not recommended.

Useful References

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