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Articles on Menopause & Perimenopause


Vaginal Dryness (atrophic vaginitis)

 
Vaginal dryness, vaginal thinning, and what is called “atrophy” are very common problems for menopausal women. When estrogen levels decline, the vulva loses its collagen, fat and water retaining ability.  As a result, it becomes flattened, thin, dry, and loses tone. Lack of vaginal lubrication means hormone levels are dropping.  Classic symptoms of vaginal atrophy are dryness, irritation, burning, and a feeling of pressure.  The vagina gets progressively shorter and narrower and its tissue thins.

The vagina also becomes susceptible to infection because the thin walls lack the normal secretions that normally cleanse vaginal tissues.  The vaginal pH rises and it becomes more alkaline.  This allows undesirable bacteria to replace friendly bacteria.  This can result in urinary tract infections. 

ALSO, When the body is deficient in progesterone, the estrogen receptors become less sensitive to estrogen. Therefore, even a woman with sufficient estrogen can have vaginal dryness.  When progesterone levels are restored in these cases, estrogen receptors become more sensitive and vaginal lubrication returns.

A 3 month trial of Natural Progesterone is found to help many women eliminate vaginal dryness. This is especially helpful news to women with a history of breast cancer who cannot take any form of estrogen. If, after 3 months, you still experience the dryness, OR if it is acute and you also have lots of hot flashes and night sweats, you may need to add some estrogen.

If you are no longer having periods, Natural Progesterone & red clover extract (a phyto-estrogen) has helped many women.  A study done in Australia linked an oral supplement containing Red Clover with relief from vaginal dryness. (We believe that the crème form is much better absorbed and utilized by the body).

For women with severe vaginal dryness that is unrelieved by a phyto-estrogen or progesterone crème, there is a wonderful product called Ostaderm V which is a plant based estrogen-progesterone crème that is specially formulated to be inserted into the vagina.  It is available only through physicians (M.D. and N.D.) and we have seen it restore vaginal moisture very rapidly.
Call 877-539-6200 For more information on Ostaderm V or to order

Estriol is an effective therapy for vaginal atrophy.  Researchers found that estriol had no metabolic effects or serious side effects at recommended doses and was safe for long term use.

Estriol is the major estrogen component in Ostaderm V.  Its creator, David Shefrin, N.D. says:  “It has always amazed me how easily the vaginal problems can be reversed.  Women whose vaginas bled with just the introduction of a small speculum or from taking a Pap smear return after six weeks with a moist, pink, youthful vagina.”  He goes on to say that some women take longer if the atrophy is profound.  In these cases it may take a few months.

Use Ostaderm V, ¼ tsp applied to the labials (major/minor) not inside the vaginal canal. It will take on average, 8 weeks to regenerate the vaginal and labial tissues. After 8 weeks, if some treatment is needed use 2-4 doses of Ostaderm V per week. You may need a general lubricant for sexual relations. Two good ones are Replens and O'lea which lubricate and are very soothinbg to the tissues.

NOTE:  Another natural product that studies show to be effective in relieving atrophic vaginitis is Vitamin E.  You can insert the capsules vaginally, take them by mouth, or open them and apply the oil directly to the vaginal tissues.

Vitamin E & EFA’s

Vitamin E (both oral and intravaginal) and essential fatty acids (EFA’s) taken orally will help lubricate vaginal tissues. EFA’s are Essential Fatty Acids. Look for a 3-6-9 formula.

To use Vitamin E intravaginally, simply pierce the gel cap with a pin and insert into the vagina.

Many women have told us that they have used their progesterone crème intravaginally a couple of times per week in addition to their regular dose. Natural progesterone can be a nice vaginal lubricant, but it only takes a pea-sized dap to be effective. This would amount to about ¼ tsp of progesterone cream put on the tip of a finger and inserted vaginally (The vaginal tissue will distribute the progesterone). Be sure to try a little test. Most women have no problem, but some will report a little burning sensation.

For over-the-counter use, there is a product called Replens that is long-lasting; a single application lasts up to 72 hours.  Studies have shown that Replens can increase vaginal secretions.