Can Vaginal Atrophy Be Reversed?

It’s no coincidence that many women experience persistent vaginal dryness for the first time in their lives during middle age. Along with hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, vaginal dryness is one of the most common — and irritating — symptoms of menopause.

But while hot flashes and other short-term symptoms typically disappear once the transition into menopause is complete, vaginal and urinary symptoms tend to stick around unless they’re treated.

For an estimated 50-60% of all postmenopausal women, long-term vaginal dryness is actually a sign of vaginal atrophy, a chronic inflammatory condition that causes the tissues that line the vaginal canal to become dry, thin, and less elastic.

As a natural byproduct of “the change of life,” vaginal atrophy has long been viewed as a permanent condition that women simply had to live with. But today, thanks to ongoing advances in women’s health care and an innovative new treatment approach, the problem can usually be reversed. Here’s how.

Estrogen and vaginal atrophy

As one of your main reproductive hormones, estrogen plays an important role in regulating your menstrual cycle and making pregnancy possible. That’s why, as your body steadily slows its estrogen production in the years leading up to menopause, your periods tend to become lighter or more sporadic, and your fertility levels decline rapidly.

But did you know that estrogen also plays an important role in maintaining normal elasticity, acidity, and lubrication of vaginal tissue? When your circulating estrogen levels decline, your vaginal tissues lose elasticity and moisture, leaving them significantly drier, thinner, and more fragile than before.

This condition, known as vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis, is an uncomfortable, and sometimes painful problem. It can cause a wide variety of vaginal and urinary symptoms, ranging from long-term vaginal dryness and decreased lubrication during sex to urinary leakage and chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs).  

Although vaginal atrophy mostly affects postmenopausal women, it can also be a problem for younger women whose estrogen levels have been diminished by cancer treatment.  

Traditional treatment solutions

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or the supplementation of reproductive hormones that your body no longer makes, has long been the go-to treatment solution for menopausal women affected by the most common symptoms of vaginal atrophy, including vaginal dryness and painful intercourse.

Although HRT in the form of low-dose topical vaginal estrogen can reverse the effects of vaginal atrophy in some women, it’s a short-term solution that isn’t safe or medically appropriate for everyone.

Women who can’t safely use HRT include those with a personal or family history of heart disease and related risk factors like high cholesterol and high triglycerides. Other women who shouldn’t use it are those with a personal or family history of breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, gallbladder disease, or liver disease.

Other traditional treatment solutions include using a water-based lubricant for pain-free sex, taking antibiotics to treat recurrent UTIs, and following specific lifestyle recommendations to control urinary incontinence.  

Laser therapy — the best solution yet

If you’re looking for a safe, noninvasive way to treat the symptoms of vaginal atrophy without having to use messy lubricants or take hormones, it’s time to try laser therapy.

Dr. Wendy Hurst has helped women of all ages reverse the effects of vaginal atrophy with MonaLisa Touch®, a revolutionary gynecological treatment that uses targeted heat therapy to revitalize your vaginal and vulvar tissues quickly, safely, and effectively.

Using fractional CO2 laser energy to make painless microscopic injuries in the tissues that line your vaginal canal, the treatment effectively prompts the targeted cells to actively restore all the normal elements of healthy vaginal tissue, including collagen, glycogen, and hyaluronic acid.

In addition to rejuvenating your vaginal tissues, MonaLisa Touch laser therapy also helps generate new collagen, elastin, and vascularization in your urethral tissues for improved urinary control.

Taken all together, the cellular-level changes within your vaginal and urethral tissues cause them to plump up and become more hydrated, which in turn restores normal pH levels and promotes the return of healthy bacteria.

Achieving proper trophic balance also promotes your body’s natural lubrication response and helps re-establish sexual function.   

After just three quick, in-office treatments, MonaLisa Touch can successfully reverse the effects of vaginal atrophy for more than 90% of women. The treatment itself is painless, has virtually no side effects, and doesn’t require any recovery time, meaning you can resume most normal activities immediately.

If you’re ready to recover your vaginal and urinary health, call our office in Englewood, New Jersey today, or schedule an appointment online any time.

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Posted in: Laser Therapy, Menopause, MonaLisa Touch®, Patient Education

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