Vaginal & Clitoral Atrophy
Vaginal atrophy, also called atrophic vaginitis, is thinning, dryness, and inflammation of the skin lining of the vagina due to a decrease in estrogen. This decrease can occur during breastfeeding, after surgical removal of one or both ovaries, after pelvic radiation, following chemotherapy, and/or particularly during perimenopause/menopause.
Vaginal Atrophy symptoms may include:
- Vaginal itching
- Vaginal dryness
- Burning with urination
- Urinary tract infections
- Decreased lubrication during sex
- Painful sex (dyspareunia)
Many women often suffer in silence with this condition before speaking to a medical provider about treatment options. Rest assured that assistance and treatment is possible! For many women, vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy makes intercourse painful, thus leading to a loss of interest in sex. Over-the-counter intimate moisturizers and lubricants like the ones available in this category, can be helpful for those women with minor symptoms and for those concerned about using hormones.
Medical Treatment for Vaginal Atrophy
The medical treatment for vaginal atrophy includes the use of local, low-dose estrogen creams, vaginal estrogen rings, estrogen suppositories and estrogen pills, patches and gels. These therapies are effective and generally well tolerated. Side effects can, however, include vaginal bleeding, breast discomfort, nausea, and thickening of the lining of the uterus. The lower the dose of estrogen, the fewer and less severe the side effects. Researchers are working to develop other non-hormonal treatments because of concerns that even small doses of estrogen could increase the risk of breast and uterine cancer.
Other Vaginal Atrophy Treatments
Tissues of the body depend on good blood flow for their nourishment and functioning, while the vagina is no different. Engaging in regular sexual activity, either with or without a partner, increases blood flow to the clitoris and vagina to keep those tissues healthy. Similarly, engaging in regular exercise helps by increasing general blood circulation as well as increasing and maintaining the production of testosterone.
Many of the devices listed in this section stimulate and help promote bloodflow to the vagina and clitoris. These devices are generally intended for external use but, if lubricant is desired, we have also suggested several gentle, natural ingredient (and sometimes organic) lubricants that can help with vaginal dryness during intercourse, to make it more enjoyable.
Products within this category that can help with Vaginal Atrophy
- Natural or organic lubricants
- External vibrators
- Internal vibrators
- Lube launcher (for inserting lubricant further into the vagina)
The clitoris, a female sex organ, is the most sensitive part of a woman’s body, containing nearly 8,000 sensory nerve endings; twice as many as found in the human penis. The clitoris is the only part of a woman’s anatomy designed exclusively for sexual pleasure. It is composed of soft tissue that fills with blood during sexual arousal. This tissue is maintained, in part, by the hormone testosterone and is dependent on adequate blood flow.
When a woman's level of testosterone drops, such as occurs with menopause or the use of hormonal birth control, she could experience a decrease in size, function, and sensitivity of the clitoris over time: a condition known as clitoral atrophy. The use of bio-identical testosterone in a cream, pill or injection can be helpful in restoring not only the size and sensitivity of the clitoris, but a woman’s sense of well-being, sexual libido, and vital energy. Within this category, we suggest warming lubricants and stimulating gels to encourage bloodflow and sensitivity to the clitoris. The use of a vibrating device that focuses sensation on the clitoral area can help provide stimulation and make an otherwise frustrating experience, more relaxing and enjoyable.
Books included in this section talk directly about clitoral atrophy while other book suggestions address issues concerning libido and the physical changes that occur with age.