Fall has finally arrived, and with it comes the season of dry, chapped skin. However, this article isn’t about our itchy hands but another type of dryness in the body that is rarely discussed yet equally important to address – vaginal dryness. This condition is also known by the medical term “atrophic vaginitis” or “genitourinary syndrome of menopause” (GSM).
Much like other parts of our body exposed to the external environment, the vagina plays a vital role in maintaining a barrier function. The health of the vaginal tissue depends on factors such as the elasticity of the epithelial barrier, the level of lubrication, lower pH, and appropriate blood flow.1 Imbalances in these factors can result in itching, burning, and persistent discomfort, affecting daily life.
One of the primary contributors to these changes is the level of estrogen in the body. Estrogen receptors are abundant in the vaginal tissue, urethra, and bladder.2 Estrogen levels can fluctuate naturally during menopause or due to medications like oral contraceptives or estrogen receptor modulators.1 Reduced estrogen levels lead to difficulty in maintaining the epithelial lining of these areas. Immediate effects include discomfort during penetrative activities, significantly impacting the ability to enjoy and engage in sexual activity. Unfortunately, this further creates a self-perpetuating cycle, as reduced sexual activity leads to decreased blood flow, hormone production, and natural stretching to improve vaginal tissue elasticity.3
The good news is that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can quickly increase blood flow, improve vaginal fluids, and enhance sexual desire and arousal within a month.2 Studies have shown that within 12 weeks, there are significant improvements in the vaginal epithelial superficial cells, reducing those nagging symptoms.2 This is crucial as symptoms worsen over time without treatment. Thus, HRT not only functions as a form of “Viagra” for women but also alleviates overall discomfort in the vaginal area.
However, estrogen receptors extend beyond vaginal tissue to our urinary tract, including the bladder and urethra. This is of utmost importance because frequent urinary tract infections (UTI) may not only result from wearing your favorite thong or tight pants but also from a disrupted urinary system barrier. Dr. Rachel Rubin, a board-certified urologist, recently made a PSA in the medical community to sound the alarms about the significance of hormone levels in women’s risk of UTIs.4 She rightfully expressed concerns about the role of healthcare providers educating their patients with GSM that there is an effective treatment in reducing life-threatening UTIs, which is responsible for 25% of hospitalizations in older individuals.4 At Port Moody Health, we echo Dr. Rubin’s concerns and advocate for a preventive approach to optimize pelvic health in women. Studies have found HRT can address the lining of the urethra while lowering vaginal pH to encourage the growth of beneficial lactobacillus species, reducing the risk of pathogenic bacteria causing UTIs.1-3 The local estrogen therapy can further help to control of the urethra thus reducing leakage of urine.2
Finally, after years of women silently enduring these symptoms, it is becoming more widely acknowledged and accepted to address these chronic and debilitating concerns. At Port Moody Health, we can guide you toward the most suitable hormonal treatment, which comes in various forms and formulations. We also provide non-prescription treatments that promote overall health of the body because hormones and their receptors reach beyond the lines of gender and sex.
Are there effective non-hormonal options available?
One of the non-hormonal treatments that we offer at Port Moody Health, is the Plus90. A swift procedure typically completed in just 15 minutes. This non-surgical treatment utilizes a compact wand-like device powered by radiofrequency (RF) energy to gently heat and revitalize tissue, stimulating collagen production with minimal discomfort and downtime.
By elevating the temperature of the vaginal wall’s connective tissue, the radiofrequency energy not only rejuvenates and enhances resilience, suppleness, sensitivity, and moisture in the vaginal mucosa but also helps alleviate the discomfort and challenges often experienced with this condition.
There is no need for recovery time, allowing you to seamlessly return to your daily routine and work immediately.
Learn more HERE
1.Rosenblum N. (2020). Update in Female Hormonal Therapy: What the Urologist Should Know: NYU Case of the Month, December 2020. Reviews in urology, 22(4), 182–185.
2.Krause, M., Wheeler, T. L., 2nd, Snyder, T. E., & Richter, H. E. (2009). Local Effects of Vaginally Administered Estrogen Therapy: A Review. Journal of pelvic medicine & surgery, 15(3), 105–114. https://doi.org/10.1097/SPV.0b013e3181ab4804
3.Zagaria, M. A. E. (2011). Urogenital Symptoms of Menopause: Atrophic Vaginitis and Atrophic Urethritis. U.S. Pharmacist, 36(9), 22–26. https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/urogenital-symptoms-of-menopause-atrophic-vaginitis-and-atrophic-urethritis
4.Rubin, R. S. (2023, October 11). “vaginal dryness” can be fatal. no, really. Medscape. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/996829?ecd=mkm_ret_231018_mscpmrk-OUS_ICYMI_CA_etid5959109&uac=184731CN&impID=5959109Leave a reply