Vaginal atrophy is caused by a decrease in estrogen production. Less estrogen makes your vaginal tissues thinner, drier, less elastic and more fragile.
A drop in estrogen levels and vaginal atrophy may occur:
- After menopause
- During the years leading up to menopause (perimenopause)
- During breast-feeding
- After surgical removal of both ovaries (surgical menopause)
- After pelvic radiation therapy for cancer
- After chemotherapy for cancer
- As a side effect of breast cancer hormonal treatment
Vaginal atrophy due to menopause may begin to bother you during the years leading up to menopause, or it may not become a problem until several years into menopause. Although the condition is common, not all menopausal women develop vaginal atrophy. Regular sexual activity, with or without a partner, can help you maintain healthy vaginal tissues.
Apr. 23, 2013
- AskMayoExpert. What causes urogenital atrophy? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Bachmann G, et al. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of vaginal atrophy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 10, 2013.
- Bachmann G, et al. Treatment of vaginal atrophy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 10, 2013.
- AskMayoExpert. What are the symptoms of urogenital atrophy? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Pickar JH. Emerging therapies for postmenopausal vaginal atrophy. Maturitas. In press. Accessed March 21, 2013.
- AskMayoExpert. What are the treatment options for managing vaginal symptoms of urogenital atrophy in women with a history of breast cancer? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Papadakis MA, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2013. 52nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=1. Accessed March 19, 2013.
- The 2012 hormone therapy position statement of The North American Menopause Society. Menopause. 2012;19:257.
- Menopause and menopause treatments. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. http://www.womenshealth.gov. Accessed March 8, 2013.
- Lentz GM, et al. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/linkTo?type=bookPage&isbn=978-0-323-06986-1&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-06986-1..C2009-0-48752-X--TOP. Accessed March 10, 2013.
- AskMayoExpert. Are any tests available that can confirm or suggest vulvovaginal atrophy? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Leach MJ, et al. Black cohosh (Cimicifuga spp.) for menopausal symptoms (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007244.pub2/abstract. Accessed March 11, 2013.
- Casper RF, et al. Menopausal hot flashes. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 11, 2013.
- Summary of Roundtable Meeting on Dietary Supplement-Drug Interactions. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/news/events/druginteraction?nav=gsa. March 21, 2013.
- Tan O, et al. Management of vulvovaginal atrophy-related sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women: An up-to-date review. Menopause. 2012;19:109.
- Simon JA, et al. One-year long-term safety extension study of ospemifene for the treatment of vulvar and vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women with a uterus. Menopause. 2013;20:1.