Can Vaginal Atrophy Be Reversed?

Reviewed on 3/26/2021

What is vaginal atrophy?

Healthcare providers usually treat vaginal atrophy with a combination of over-the-counter medications and hormonal therapy.
Healthcare providers usually treat vaginal atrophy with a combination of over-the-counter medications and hormonal therapy.

Many people experience the lining of their vagina becoming drier and thinner. This health condition is called vaginal atrophy, which is also known as genitourinary syndrome of menopause. It most commonly occurs after menopause (when someone’s monthly period stops) when the body creates less estrogen, a sex hormone

Some people may think they are stuck with this condition and feel isolated, depressed, or alone. But there are treatments available to control vaginal atrophy. Doctors can diagnose vaginal atrophy, treat your symptoms, and reverse the condition.

Vaginal atrophy is a medical condition that affects the reproductive systems of people with vaginas. If you have vaginal atrophy, you may experience these symptoms:

  • Dryness of the vagina
  • Burning/itching of the vagina
  • Pain during sex 
  • Yellow discharge from the vagina 
  • Spotting/bleeding
  • Feeling of pressure 

Your vaginal atrophy may also cause these symptoms in the urinary tract:

All of these symptoms are due to a lack of estrogen. It lowers the amount of vaginal fluids and changes your reproductive system’s PH balance (the acid-base balance at which your body functions best). This causes a drier, less stretchy vagina.

Diagnosis for vaginal atrophy

Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose vaginal atrophy. Doctors may use several tests to diagnose:

  • Pelvic exam (when the doctor examines your pelvic muscles, vagina and cervix)
  • Urine test (when the doctor checks a sample of your urine for abnormalities)
  • Acid balance test (when the doctor tests the acid balance inside your vagina)

You may get a diagnosis if the following apply:

  • You have a narrowed or shortened vagina
  • You’re experiencing dryness, redness, or swelling
  • Your vagina is discolored 
  • Thinning of pubic hair
  • A bulge in the back of the vagina 
  • Minor cuts near the vagina opening
     

After understanding your symptoms, a healthcare professional can diagnose you and offer treatment options to control vaginal atrophy.

QUESTION

The vagina includes the labia, clitoris, and uterus. See Answer

Vaginal atrophy treatments

Healthcare providers usually treat this condition with a combination of over-the-counter medications and hormonal therapy.

Common over-the-counter vaginal atrophy treatments are vaginal moisturizers (like K-Y Liquibeads, Replens, and Sliquid) and water-based lubricants (like Astroglide, K-Y Jelly, Sliquid, and more).

If these options don’t work, your doctor may recommend another treatment option like:

Vaginal estrogen

Your medical provider may prescribe topical estrogen to control vaginal atrophy. Topical estrogen is more effective at lower doses than oral estrogen. Also, the topical treatment can provide direct relief. Vaginal estrogen can come in the form of a ring, cream, or insertable suppository. 

Osphena (Ospemifene)

If you’re experiencing pain during sex, this daily pill can provide relief.

Intrarosa (Prasterone)

Your doctor may prescribe this vaginal insert, which delivers hormones directly to your vagina to help relieve vaginal atrophy symptoms. 

Systemic estrogen therapy

If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness in addition to other menopausal symptoms, your doctor might recommend estrogen patches, pills, or gel to increase your hormone levels and reverse vaginal atrophy.

Vaginal dilators

This device stretches the vaginal muscles to reverse narrowing of the vagina. These are available without a prescription

Lidocaine

Lidocaine is a topical numbing medicine used to lessen pain during sex and relieve symptoms of vaginal atrophy.

Possible side effects of vaginal atrophy medications

Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of your medications or other treatment approaches. As with any treatment for any condition, you’ll want to consider the risks and choose the option that’s right for you. 

For example, if you take an estrogen supplement you may experience side effects like{Cleveland Clinic: “Vaginal Atrophy).”}:

Other medications may have different side effects. Consult your health care provider about possible complications of vaginal atrophy medications while you discuss your condition. You and your health care provider can work together to find the right approach to treating your vaginal atrophy and reversiting it.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

References
Cleveland Clinic: “Vaginal Atrophy.”

Harvard Education: “Managing postmenopausal vaginal atrophy.”

Mayo Clinic: “Vaginal Atrophy.”

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors