Vaginal Atrophy: A Condition That Causes Thinning, Drying of Vaginal Walls


May 21, 2020


Image Credit: Shutterstock

In the years leading up to menopause or after menopause, one in three women is likely to develop symptoms related to vaginal atrophy, also known as atrophic vaginitis. The condition refers to the deterioration of vaginal tissues, due to a decrease in estrogen levels, which can lead to thinning, dryness, irritation, and inflammation of the vaginal wall. This can increase the risk of women contracting vaginal and urinary infections, and cause pain during intercourse.

What Causes Vaginal Atrophy?

While the condition is most common in menopausal women, it is possible for the condition to occur any time the body’s estrogen production decreases, states a report by Harvard Health. This could happen due to chemotherapy, radiation, removal of ovaries during a hysterectomy, or the use of certain therapies and drugs used to treat conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis.

But, because the condition is not widely discussed, very few women end up seeking treatment. While some of them believe it is a normal part of the aging process or a consequence of menopause, others don’t end up approaching a doctor because of stigma.

What are the symptoms of vaginal atrophy?

Vaginal atrophy usually develops slowly, therefore, women may not notice symptoms until five to ten years after hitting menopause. However, common signs include vaginal dryness, itching, painful intercourse, or light bleeding after intercourse. Burning sensations or frequent urination, recurring urinary tract infections are other possible signs of vaginal atrophy.

Related on The Swaddle:

Painful Sex Is a Real Medical Condition, But Doctors Often Miss, Dismiss It

How is vaginal atrophy treated?

Mild symptoms, like dryness, can be addressed with lubricants during sexual intercourse. Regular sexual activity may improve symptoms because it leads to an increase in blood circulation to the vagina, which helps maintain the vaginal tissues. Other approaches, such as low-dosage estrogen in the form of creams, tablets, or rings inserted into the vagina, can restore vaginal secretions and ultimately reduces dryness.


Written By Anubhuti Matta

Anubhuti Matta is an associate editor with The Swaddle. When not at work, she’s busy pursuing kathak, reading books on and by women in the Middle East or making dresses out of Indian prints.

  1. Megan Alder

    It’s interesting to know that vaginal atrophy is most common in menopausal women but is also caused by radiation, drugs, and removal of ovaries. My aunt mentioned she had vaginal atrophy but I didn’t have a clear understanding of what it was. Thank you for writing about this useful information and how to treat it as well.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields *.

The latest in health, gender & culture in India -- and why it matters. Delivered to your inbox weekly.