When we talk about menopause, we talk about a whole transition that happens to women with aging, and realistically, one of the areas that's not that well talked about is vaginal atrophy.
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Family Physician, discusses What is Vaginal Atrophy?
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Family Physician, discusses how to speak to your family doctor about vaginal atrophy.
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Family Physician, discusses Treatment Options for Vaginal Atrophy
What is Vaginal Atrophy?
As we discuss menopause, it is important to address the full range of changes that women experience as they age. Unfortunately, one topic that often goes unmentioned is vaginal atrophy. This condition, also known as genital urinary estrogen deficiency, occurs when there is a decrease in estrogen levels in the genital area. This reduction is a result of decreased estrogen stores and production in the body.
This is one area where we know symptoms get worse with time. Doctors often say, give it a bit of time and it will get better. Hot flashes, for example, do get better with time.
So it's really important to consider this issue if you are having symptoms and to speak to your doctor. Often seeing a local family physician or a registered dietitian and athletic therapist is a great option to take control of this condition. Physiotherapy and exercise is also optimal for overall health.
Discussing Vaginal Atrophy With Your Doctor
Many women may experience feelings of embarrassment or reluctance to discuss vaginal atrophy or genital estrogen deficiency with their doctor. Similarly, some doctors may feel shy or uncomfortable bringing up the topic with their patients. This can lead to a communication gap, where patients may assume that if their doctor doesn't ask about it, it must not be important and doctors may assume that if the patient doesn't mention it, it must not be a concern. However, it's important for both parties to have open and honest communication about this issue to ensure proper care and treatment.
To address your concerns, it's crucial to consult with your physician and schedule a gynecologic assessment for a proper examination. This will help determine if vaginal atrophy is the cause of your symptoms or if there are other potential issues, such as a local infection or thyroid disease. It's essential to keep in mind that not all vaginal discomfort is caused by vaginal atrophy. Meeting with your physician should be your first step towards finding a solution.
In step two, it's important to have an open conversation. How are things going for you at home? Is everything okay with your partner? Do you feel that there are any emotional issues affecting your relationship? Keep in mind that local estrogen therapy, the treatment for vaginal atrophy, won't fix any relationship issues. Therefore, it's crucial for you to discuss this matter with your partner and physician.
Some of the other issues that you may consider when you're looking at changes in sexual function are issues like depression, fatigue, stress, and certain medications which we know have an effect on interest, as well as function, in sexual activity.
When it comes to menopause, it's important to acknowledge it as a process and a transition. It's worth reflecting on your journey so far and where you want to go from here. Firstly, make an appointment with your physician. Secondly, have an open discussion with them about any concerns you may have. Lastly, consider including your partner in this conversation, so you both can move forward in a positive manner. If your physician is unable to address all of your inquiries, they may refer you to a specialist with more expertise in menopause or sexual function.
And across Canada, there are licensed sexual therapists dealing with some issues that may have an effect on your situation. It's important to be hopeful and optimistic if vaginal atrophy is one of the issues you've been facing, both for yourself and in your relationship. Consult your family doctor. There are options for you to consider and you may want to take your partner with you to that appointment. It's something that's affecting both of you.