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Vulvovaginal Atrophy [VVA] - The silent, ignored, and unspoken effect of menopause

What is Vulvovaginal Atrophy

The Fabulous Five, as they called themselves, were together yet again for their monthly meeting. The Fabulous Five viz Alisha, Sucheta, Vaani, Ramya, and Namita talked nineteen to the dozen, sipping coffee, whenever they met. It was their bonding ritual, as they called it.

Sucheta – Hey gals, Prakash and I had some awesome sex last night, but I felt quite dry down there. I had to use a lube

Namita – dry? I have been feeling so itchy down there, I feel like tearing my hair out. It’s so embarrassing if I am in public

Vaani – I keep getting this feeling that I need to pee all the time. Sometimes, I sneeze or laugh out loud and I have this leakage

Alisha – I have been experiencing this strange yellow-coloured discharge for a few days. I haven’t seen my gynaec though

Ramya – [smiling] girls, welcome to the silent effect of menopause. I experienced painful sex a few days ago and Amit and I both immediately visited my gynaecologist. After examining me, he [gynaecologist] told us that this was a sign of VVA – vulvovaginal atrophy, a condition which hits us women during and after menopause.

Vaani – oh really? Does that mean even I could also have these symptoms?

Ramya – well, not necessarily. Each one of us could face different symptoms depending on our vaginal and physical health.

Alisha – did the gynaecologist tell you about this VVA?

Ramya – yes. All you lovely ladies, you need to understand that as we hit our mid-forties, our bodies produce estrogen in lesser amounts. The lining of our vaginal wall begins to thin, inflamed, and dry. Besides the symptoms you all have been experiencing, some women can also experience painful urination, a hard time holding urination [incontinence], increased yeast infections down there, more UTIs, and even bleeding during or post-sex.

Sucheta – is menopause the only reason that estrogen goes down? A friend of mine is undergoing chemotherapy. She too spoke about lowered levels of estrogen

Ramya – breastfeeding, birth control pills, hormone treatments, and removal of ovaries are some of the other reasons why estrogen can dip

Namita – but hey, is this VVA the same as vaginal yeast infection?

Ramya – well, as per what the gynaecologist mentioned, vaginal yeast infection is caused by fungus whereas vaginal atrophy is caused by a lack of estrogen

Namita – so can this vaginal atrophy be prevented?

Ramya – well, I guess, the symptoms can be managed but you need to consult a gynaecologist to get the right treatment

Sucheta – how much will this affect us in the long run?

Ramya – it can affect our quality of life Sucheta. However, if we are careful to notice the symptoms and consult our gynaecologist immediately, a good solution is possible. We don’t have to be embarrassed about it or feel depressed about it. We also need to ensure that our respective partners are aware of our discomfort. It’s essential that they also understand from our gynaecologist how our body changes with age

Alisha – wow!! That was a lot of food for thought for today. Here’s to hoping that we all remain in good health in the coming years and that our vaginal health too is given priority.

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