What is Vaginal Atrophy?

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Vaginal Atrophy (VA)

Oestrogen levels decline after the menopause and this can cause changes in our vaginal health, with around 1 in 2 women experiencing vaginal dryness, itching or uncomfortable sex, also known as vaginal atrophy (VA). 

VA is a condition in which the decrease in oestrogen after the menopause causes thinning of the tissues in and around the vagina, decreased flexibility and elasticity of the vagina and a decrease in the mucus production that provides a moist vaginal environment (figure 1).

Figure 1. Postmenopausal changes in the vaginal tissue

Postmenopausal changes diagram

Lower oestrogen levels associated with the menopause also lead to a higher pH in the vagina, resulting in overgrowth of some bacterial species. This can make postmenopausal women more susceptible to vaginal and urinary tract infections.

How common is vaginal atrophy?

VA affects around 50% of postmenopausal women but many are unaware of the cause, or that treatment is available.

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