What is it?
- Atrophic vaginitis is the thinning of the walls of the vagina and shrinkage of vagina tissue causing inflammation of vagina. It commonly occurs after menopause due to decreased estrogen levels.
- Women with vaginal atrophy have a greater chance of chronic vaginal infections and urinary function problems. It can also make sexual intercourse painful.
What are the symptoms?
- In some women, symptoms occur during perimenopause, or the years leading up to menopause. In other women, symptoms may not appear until years later, if ever. Symptoms include: an abnormal vaginal discharge vaginal irritation or itching pain when having sex or spotting after intercourse pain or burning with urination light bleeding or spotting lack of vaginal moisture (vaginal dryness) vaginal burning (inflammation) more frequent urinary tract infections urinary incontinence (involuntary leakage)
- To help improve your vaginitis you should:
- keep your genital area clean and dry – take a warm bath rather than a hot one and use unperfumed soap to clean your genital area (the vagina cleans itself with natural secretions); dry yourself thoroughly
- use pads rather than tampons if you’re using intravaginal creams or pessaries to treat an infection – tampons may ‘soak up’ the treatment meaning there’s less available in the vagina
- wear loose-fitting cotton underwear – this may be beneficial if you have external soreness, but it won’t prevent getting vaginitis in the future
- not use feminine hygiene products – such as sprays, deodorants or powders
- avoid douching (spraying water inside your vagina) – it may make your vaginitis symptoms worse by removing the healthy bacteria that line the vagina and help keep it free from infection
Things to watch out for
See your GP or go to a sexual health clinic if you have any unusual vaginal symptoms, particularly if: you have vaginal itching or an unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge you haven’t had a vaginal infection before you’ve had vaginal infections in the past, but this time your symptoms are different you’ve had a number of sexual partners or you have a new sexual partner – you may have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) you’ve finished a course of medication for vaginal thrush, but your symptoms are persisting There’s no need to see your GP if you’ve been diagnosed with thrush in the past and your symptoms are the same.