Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment of Atrophic Vaginitis

Atrophic vaginitis or vaginal atrophic is a common condition that occurs when there is a decline in estrogen level. A decline of estrogen leads to thinning, drying, and inflammation of the vaginal wall tissue.

woman with atrophic vaginitis sitting with husband

Symptoms of Atrophic Vaginitis

  • Vaginal dryness / discharge
  • Vulva itching
  • Pain with urination and urinary frequency
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Increase incidence of urinary tract infection
  • Pain with intercourse (Dyspareunia)
  • Loss of vaginal lubrication during sex
  • Vaginal bleeding

Causes of Atrophic Vaginitis

Atrophic Vaginitis is caused by an estrogen drop that can occur when:

  • A woman is postmenopausal
  • When a woman is breast-feeding
  • When a woman is placed on anti-estrogen medication such as Arimidex for treatment of breast cancer

An additional more direct cause of atrophic vaginitis could be due to radiation therapy to the pelvic region such as for cervical / anal cancers.

Other proposed risk factors include use of tobacco products and the absence of vaginal delivery in women who have given birth via c-section.

Diagnosing Atrophic Vaginitis

Diagnosing atrophic vaginitis includes:

  • A detailed history and physical examination
  • Laboratory studies including a urinalysis and culture
  • A cystoscopy if patient has significant urinary complaints

Treatment for Atrophic Vaginitis

Treatment for atrophic vaginitis includes:

  • Over-the-counter remedies such as vaginal moisturizing products and water-based lubricants
  • Use of estrogen supplementation, if appropriate (topical cream, oral estrogen, vaginal estrogen tablet)

Since there is more than one option for managing and treating atrophic vaginitis, the options – including their pros and cons – should be discussed with your doctor.