Vaginal Atrophy Treatment: Using Dilators & More

Woman With Vaginal Pain

What is Vaginal Atrophy and How is it Treated?

Vaginal atrophy is the thinning, inflammation, and drying of the vaginal walls associated with low estrogen levels in women. Vaginal atrophy is commonly experienced after menopause as part of a condition called to as genitourinary symptoms of menopause (GSM).

It can also occur after hysterectomy, gynecological cancers, and in lesser degrees while breast feeding and after childbirth. Vaginal atrophy is commonly associated with the distressing symptoms of painful intercourse and urinary incontinence. The good news is that there are several treatment options available to manage these symptoms.

What Are Symptoms of Vaginal Atrophy?

Vaginal atrophy and GSM symptoms vary from person to person and are often uncomfortable.

Symptoms of vaginal atrophy include:

  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Genital itching
  • Vulvar itching
  • Vulvar dryness
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Increased incidence of urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Pain during sex
  • Light bleeding after sex
  • Tightening of the vagina
  • Frequency of urination
  • Urgency with urination
  • Decreased natural lubrication during intercourse

What Causes of Vaginal Atrophy?

Decreased levels of estrogen hormones lead to symptoms of vaginal atrophy and genitourinary symptoms of menopause (GSM). When estrogen levels decline the vaginal tissue becomes thinner, drier, and less elastic.

Declining estrogen levels leading to vaginal atrophy typically occur:

  • After childbirth
  • With breastfeeding
  • Following pelvic radiation for cancer
  • The years leading up to menopause (perimenopause)
  • After menopause
  • After hysterectomy
  • Following surgical removal of the ovaries
  • As a side effect to breast cancer treatment
  • Following chemotherapy for cancer
  • As a side effect to using anti-estrogen medications to treat uterine fibroids or endometriosis

Why Use Vaginal Dilators for Atrophy?

Vaginal dilators, also referred to as vaginal trainers, are used to restore the depth, width, and elasticity of the vaginal canal to allow for sexual activity, tampon use, or medical exams. See our medical grade silicone set.

Vaginal atrophy treatment includes the use of vaginal dilators to progressively improve the mobility of the vaginal tissue while learning to relax the pelvic floor muscles. Intimate Rose Vaginal Dilators come in eight progressively larger sizes to allow for gentle progression to meet your goals.                                                                                                    
To decrease pain with vaginal penetration, the keys to success are consistency and routine practice. Daily use of vaginal dilators, coupled with relaxation techniques and focused attention on training the muscles, will result in achieving your goals.

Your health care provider may have a unique training plan for you outside of the recommendations made here. Vaginal dilation can be used as an adjunct to pelvic floor muscle physical therapy, psychotherapy, sex therapy, vaginal estrogen therapy, and personal lubricants.

Use Vulvar Balm and Personal Lubricant 

Vulvar balm for vaginal atrophy assists in providing moisturization to dry, irritated vulvar tissue.

Intimate Rose’s Organic Feminine Balm is helpful in soothing irritated and sensitive skin, promoting healing, and decreasing dryness and redness associated with low estrogen states. Vulvar balm can be likened to lip balm for dry, irritated lips.

During sex, personal lubricant should be used in generous amounts. Vaginal atrophy can lead to bleeding due to the thinning and dry nature of the vaginal canal.

Using 1-2 tablespoons of personal lubricant can help prevent painful friction during intercourse. A clean suspension dropper can be used to apply personal lubricant deeper into the vaginal canal.

Talk to your doctor about hormone or bioidentical hormone replacement

Some women can benefit from using vaginal estrogen cream to improve the health of the vaginal tissue. Topical estrogen applied into the vagina two to three times per week can help improve blood flow to the tissue, making it more supple and thus decreasing the incidence of urinary incontinence and pain during sex.

Additional Resources:

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By Dr. Amanda Olson,DPT, PRPC