Harvard Women's Health Watch

New guidelines for treating vaginal atrophy

After menopause, between 20% and 45% of women have uncomfortable vaginal symptoms—including dryness, burning, and pain during intercourse. The condition is called vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA), and it's due to a lack of estrogen that dries out and thins the tissues of the vagina and vulva. Although VVA can have a real effect on a woman's sex life and overall quality of life, few women get help for it. In August, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) released new guidelines to help women with VVA. NAMS recommends that women first try vaginal lubricants and moisturizers to treat their symptoms. If these therapies don't work, they can try vaginal or oral estrogen—provided they don't have any health risks (such as a history of breast or endometrial cancer) that would prevent them from taking estrogen. NAMS also says that regular sexual activity or other vaginal stimulation can maintain vaginal health.

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