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What is vaginal atrophy?

07 Jun 2023 • 10 min read

Whether you’re going through menopause at the moment or just researching, you’re probably aware that one of the common symptoms is vaginal atrophy. Also known as Atrophic Vaginitis or Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM), vaginal atrophy is basically when the walls of the vagina become thinner.1

But what are the accompanying symptoms? And how can you manage it? Find out the basics of vaginal atrophy in this article.

Skip to: Symptoms | Causes | Menopause | Management

The symptoms of vaginal atrophy

As we mentioned just above, vaginal atrophy refers to the thinning, inflammation and drying of the vaginal walls, which often takes place in perimenopause or menopause – although these symptoms can have other causes too. But you may also experience:1,2  

It’s worth mentioning that these symptoms can be related to other conditions, too, so it’s best to check with your GP if you’re experiencing anything that we listed above.3  

What causes vaginal atrophy?

Generally speaking, vaginal atrophy is caused by a decrease in oestrogen levels. This means that the walls of the vagina become thinner and less stretchy. Additionally, the decrease in oestrogen causes a reduction in vaginal fluids and natural lubrication – which all contribute to the vagina and vulval tissues becoming dry and fragile. This in turn makes you more susceptible to injury, tearing and bleeding during intercourse.4  

Vaginal atrophy and menopause

In the years running up to and during menopause, a lot of changes take place. As well as other body parts and functions, the vagina and vulva (the outer area) are affected by the changing hormone levels and subsequent drop in oestrogen.  

You may find that this has a knock-on effect on your sex life, as vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable and painful for some people.5 Having said this, continuing to have sex throughout menopause may be beneficial as it supports the health of blood cells and vaginal lubrication!6  

Tips for managing vaginal atrophy

If you’re experiencing symptoms related to vaginal atrophy, there are a few different options you can go down when it comes to managing it:

The final say

Feeling like you know a little more about vaginal atrophy, the symptoms that come with it and how to manage it? We hope so. And remember, this is a common issue and nothing to be ashamed of. Of course if you have any specific concerns, it’s always best to speak to a health care professional so that they can provide you with personalised guidance or an official diganosis.


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