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Within the safe and welcoming environment of my office, I invite my patients to ask me questions regarding their gynecologic health. I assure them no question is silly or embarrassing. This blog will serve as a resource for me to share real patient questions with my answers and insight. While my responses are based on my medical knowledge and the latest scientific literature, the information provided is not meant to replace a medical consult with your physician.

 

Dear Dr. Hanna,
Ever since going thru menopause, my vagina feels dry. I have tried an over-the-counter vaginal moisturizer but did not get relief. Why is this happening to me? Is there anything else I can do?

Sincerely,
Dry as the Desert

Dear Dry as the Desert,

I am sorry to hear you are suffering from vaginal dryness but I can assure you, you are not alone. Medical surveys estimate half of postmenopausal women suffer from the problem. Vaginal dryness is one of the most common complaints of menopausal women I see in my office.

Dryness can occur alone or in combination with other bothersome vaginal symptoms such as pain with intercourse and/or urinary symptoms of frequency and urgency. Some women even have an increased vaginal discharge. All together, these symptoms are referred to as genitourinary symptoms of menopause. Before menopause, the hormones estrogen and DHEA help to keep the walls in the vagina well lubricated. In menopause, the level of these hormones decreases and can lead to the vaginal dryness. The good news is there are many excellent treatment options for you to choose from. You do not have to suffer!

Non-hormone products include lubricants, moisturizers, Vitamin E suppositories and a prescription tablet taken orally that targets the vaginal tissue. You must be careful with any scented products as they can cause irritation. An inexpensive natural option you can also consider is oil (olive, coconut or mineral).

Hormonal treatment options include vaginal estrogen and vaginal DHEA. Vaginal estrogen is very safe and is available as a low-dose tablet, cream, or ring that is worn in the vagina.

If constant vaginal maintenance seems cumbersome and messy, I have one more excellent option for you to consider, a CO2 laser treatment. The CO2 laser treatment has been shown to improve vaginal dryness and genital symptoms of menopause. The procedure is quick, simple and done in the comfort of the gynecologist’s office. It usually consists of 3 treatment sessions, each spaced 6 weeks apart and then one ‘touch up’ treatment yearly. Currently the CO2 laser treatments are not covered by insurance. If cost is not a barrier, it certainly is a simple and effective solution to your vaginal dryness.

Other medical conditions can cause vaginal dryness and genital symptoms of menopause, so I recommend you see your gynecologist for an exam. Once other conditions have been ruled out, your doctor can help you best decide which treatment is right for you.

Sincerely,
Dr. Hanna

The content is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Please seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Barbra S. Hanna, DO, FACOG, NCMP
1604 North Main Street  •  Wheaton, Illinois 60187  •  630-260-1818