Beyond Hot Flashes: What Menopause Can Do to Your Vagina

Menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes, are often fodder for jokes about women getting older.  But for an estimated 80% of menopausal women who experience hot flashes this highly uncomfortable symptom is anything but funny. 

Menopause is one of the seasons of change affecting the female reproductive system. Night sweats, chills, mood swings, problems sleeping, and the dreaded hot flashes mark the time when a woman’s body no longer prepares for the possibility of pregnancy. Hot flashes can definitely be annoying and uncomfortable, but changes in hormone levels also trigger changes within the vagina that causes uncomfortable symptoms.

Our OB/GYN Brandon M. Lingenfelter, DO, PhD, provides some insight into how menopause specifically affects your vagina.

Vaginal atrophy

When your body produces less estrogen, the lining of the vagina thins out, becomes drier, and loses elasticity. These symptoms can result in less pleasurable, uncomfortable, or even painful sexual intercourse. This issue becomes further exacerbated if you refrain from sexual intercourse or have sexual intercourse less frequently during menopause. The inactivity may cause further transformations in the vagina making it shorter and narrower.

Weakened muscles and incontinence

Menopause can weaken the muscles in the pelvic floor that normally provide a strong foundation for organs such as the uterus, cervix, vagina, rectum, and bladder. The lining of the tube that draws urine from the bladder, called the urethra, thins out during menopause as well. The combination of the thinning urethra and weakened pelvic floor muscles set up the likelihood of bladder control problems, like urinary incontinence. Some women suffer from overactive bladder problems while others leak urine when they laugh, sneeze, or cough.

Vaginal treatments with Votiva™

There was a time when there were few choices for women suffering from these uncomfortable and embarrassing symptoms of menopause. Fortunately, new vaginal treatments have been developed including minimally invasive procedures like a Votiva.™ This in-office treatment uses radiofrequency energy to boost production of the body’s natural firming agent – collagen. A nice added plus to this treatment is that it also improves circulation, restores vaginal moisture, and can treat the external labia as well. 

A typical Votiva session takes about 30 minutes. Since it’s not a surgical procedure, there’s minimal downtime, if any. During the treatment, you feel a warming sensation as the radiofrequency energy goes to work. Most patients notice improvement of symptoms within a few weeks.* Depending on your symptoms and needs, up to three Votiva treatments may be recommended for optimal outcomes.

If menopausal symptoms are taking a toll on your quality of life, there’s no need to suffer. Make an appointment to learn about your options. Contact Dr. Lingenfelter at our practice in Princeton, West Virginia. Book your appointment online or call our office today.

* Outcomes may vary

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