Vulvar and Vaginal Atrophy (VVA) Treatment Options
After menopause, some women experience changes in vaginal tissue that can lead to dryness, itching and burning in and around the vagina and vulva, and pain during sex. These tissue changes are collectively referred to as vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA) and may cause discomfort.
Treatments may include over-the-counter vaginal lubricants and moisturizers. Estrogen therapy is also an option for some women. If you are experiencing vaginal atrophy, it is important to speak with your health care professional to find a treatment option that is right for you.
- A variety of nonprescription, non-hormonal vaginal lubricants and moisturizers are available to treat vaginal dryness.
- Water-based vaginal lubricants decrease friction and temporarily ease discomfort during intercourse.
- Unlike lubricants, vaginal moisturizers act directly on tissue to relieve dryness. Women who experience irritation and burning unrelated to sexual activity may prefer moisturizers over lubricants.
- Although lubricants and moisturizers may provide temporary relief for women experiencing vaginal dryness, they do not restore vaginal tissues.
- Prescription estrogen therapy has been shown to restore the thickness and elasticity of vaginal tissues, relieve vaginal dryness and restore healthy vaginal pH. Improvements usually occur within a few weeks of starting therapy, but relief of severe atrophy can take longer.
- Estrogen therapy not only relieves symptoms, but it also restores vaginal tissues that provide elasticity and lubrication.
To help relieve the vaginal symptoms of menopause – including vaginal dryness and painful sex – it is important to communicate openly with your health care professional about your symptoms and discuss if there is a prescription treatment option that may be right for you.