You already know that hormones are important, and you’ve likely experienced how hormonal swings can affect you. When your hormones change over time, you may be less likely to notice what’s happening.
At Apple Hill Gynecology, Dr. Marsha Bornt and her staff understand the impact hormones can have on your life and your overall health. We work with you to help you understand how your hormones affect your health. Your hormones may become unbalanced during and immediately after pregnancy, during perimenopause and after menopause, or if you have a condition such as PCOS.
Menopause is easily the most common reason fluctuating hormones affect vaginal health. The period of time before menopause is called perimenopause. This stage can last as long as 10 years, and one of the main changes that happens is that your body produces less and less estrogen.
Estrogen has many functions, such as protecting your bone health, but one of its primary tasks is helping your vagina stay lubricated and elastic. It also helps the tissue remain thick.
Less estrogen can mean you experience dryness, thinning, and even inflammation.
Vaginal health issues that are related to hormonal changes often cause symptoms. Those symptoms include:
These symptoms are caused by a condition called vaginal atrophy, which is uncomfortable but treatable.
You aren’t destined to live with the discomfort of vaginal atrophy. You can take steps to maintain your vaginal health before and after menopause.
For example, having sex regularly increases the blood flow to your vagina, which helps to keep the tissue elastic and healthy. You may also use over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers to help combat dryness.
In some cases, Dr. Bornt recommends a vaginal estrogen cream to help with vaginal lubrication. Vaginal estrogen is also available in tablet form or as a ring that can be replaced. This can help with the discomfort of dryness.
Using a lubricant during sex along with a vaginal moisturizer can help decrease the discomfort of intercourse. Generally, water-based lubricants or silicone-based products are better than oil-based ones because the oils can cause irritation and lessen the effectiveness of condoms.
Perimenopause and menopause aren’t the only times in your life you can expect your hormones to fluctuate and affect your vaginal health. After childbirth, your estrogen levels can drop drastically. Breastfeeding, too, can keep your estrogen level lower than usual.
If you’re taking cancer treatments or need anti-estrogen drugs, you may have lower estrogen levels. Even common medications like cold and allergy medications or antidepressants can cause vaginal dryness.
Some underlying conditions such as PCOS and Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune condition, can also cause vaginal dryness.
If you have symptoms of vaginal atrophy, it’s important for you to seek the care of an expert. Dr. Bornt can help you understand what’s going on and suggest an appropriate course of treatment. Schedule your appointment today!