Atrophic Vaginitis: Care Instructions

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Female pelvic organs


Atrophic vaginitis is an irritation of the vagina. It's caused by thinning tissues and less moisture in the vaginal walls. It often happens during menopause when hormone levels change. Surgery to remove the ovaries also can cause it. Your doctor may do tests to rule out other causes.

The problem is most often treated with the hormone estrogen. It comes in a cream, tablets, or a soft plastic ring that is placed in the vagina.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Use a lubricant for your vagina if sex is dry or painful. Lubricants can be water-,silicone-, or oil-based. Ask your doctor about what kind may be a better option for you.
  • Talk with your doctor about using vaginal estrogen. It treats dryness and thinning tissue.
  • Do not douche.
  • Ask your doctor about pelvic floor physical therapy. Regular vaginal stretching exercises may help reduce symptoms. Regular sexual activity may also help.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have unexpected vaginal bleeding.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.