Vaginal Atrophy?

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I am 47 and suffering through perimenopause as I have almost every symptom (migraines, hot flashs/cold chills, shorter periods, heavy two days periods, etc) . After taking seven months to recover from IBS and UTIs, my husband and I finally had sex. (In hindsight we should have used lubrication) Unfortunately, the sex hurt as I was very dry and a day later I had some dark blood spotting. The following week my minor soreness turned into constant and stronger pain in the vagina. I do not have any discharge and no peeing issues. Am I correct to assume this is vaginal atrophy due to perimenopause and not having sex for months? Interestingly, the pain is much worse after I take a hot shower and it hurts more to sit versus stand. I do have an appt with my OBGYN in two days - but I would love other women's thoughts on this matter. I am taking motrin and it helps some. Overall, the pain comes and goes. Thanks you so much!

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  • Posted

    i can relate to your problem! Ive had the mona lisa laser treatment with no improvement, but it may be something for u to try? I recently saw a holistic doctor to back the issue up naturally, have been advised to increase vitamin B6 and omega 7 foods. massage the area with a probiotic natural yoghurt, or coconut oil, or even olive oil. any oestrogen creams, only massage around the external area, no need to insert into the vagina, it will be absorbed (you dont want it to be absorbed into the uterus). Do your research, dont rely on just medical doctors who promote drugs that are being pedalled to them by pharmaceutical companies, they can be useful but dont put all your eggs in one basket? Good luck

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your suggestions! I agree about not using drugs right away. I am also about using natural alternatives. I use magnesium glycinate for minor blood pressure and d-mannose for keeping e-coli UTIs away. I will ask about mona lisa laser treatment too. Have you had any success with Replens or was olive oil/coconut oil better. Will eventually my pain and inflammation subside? How long does it take after having sex? It has been two weeks.

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    • Posted

      ive only just started on the yoghurt mixed with some powder from a femex capsule. replens did nothing for me either. the holistic gp said its acid in the lower bowel that puts the lymphatic system out of balance, which is interesting research. ill let u know if i have any luck!

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  • Posted

    Hi Jen,

    To start I have no uterus, tubes or cervix, so my choice of meds poses almost no risk.

    I'm 51 and started with what I thought was a run of the mill yeast infection almost 3 years ago, it was the middle of a hot summer (I'm in the US), a ton of time spent in the pool and rivers swimming. So I self treated because it was all the symptoms I've had before. First 7 day treatment didn't work and I started having issues urinating. Went to urgent care over a weekend and they told me to retreat and treated me for a UTI. Still didn't work and I was getting worse. Went to my GP and he says retreat but this time with a prescription instead of over the counter meds. So I'm on my 3rd course of treatments and I was so swollen, raw and painful I demanded a referral to a gyno. By that time I was so out of whack I could barely walk and as disgusting as this sounds, the only way to pee without it feeling like glass was to sit in a warm bath. The gyno swabs me and what I thought was yeast had turned into BV, so now I'm on another 7 day course of treatment with different meds. I was as dry as a desert and had so much pressure, like I was trying to give birth and my urethra was so sunk in I couldn't tell where it was. So I went back. She tested my pH and it was bad. She prescribed Vagifem and basically dismissed me, didn't explain what VA was. I was freaked out, I had no idea what was going on. Off to a 4th doc, she confirmed the VA and also told me I had bladder prolapse and that was the pressure I was feeling, she took the time to explain it all to me and what my options were. Vagifem or estrace cream bc oral hormones are not an option for me because of other health issues. So while I agonized over what to do I found this site.. I tried replens, which helped for about a week, I was shedding all the dead dry tissue from all the unnecessary creams and the natural dryness that occurs, literally pulling it out in clumps (sorry for that gross mental pic!). So then I started using coconut oil and that helped a ton, not only for moisture but for the antibacterial purposes. But that didn't last long either so after lots of advise from others here I gave the vagifem a try.. I didn't get on well with it, it gave me horrible leg cramps. So I tried the estrace cream.. 1 gram daily for about a month, then 1g twice a week for about another month along with pelvic floor physical therapy for the prolapse. I got down to 1/2g twice a week and by then everything was back to almost normal and looked young again lol. But it burned for about the first week or so.

    It took almost a year to get a correct diagnosis and I've been on the estrace for almost 2 yrs now.. sometimes I need more when I start feeling uncomfortable and sometimes I only use it once a week. I see women who say not to insert it inside, but for me, just using it on the outside did absolutely nothing for internal dryness. However, like I said at the beginning of this never ending saga, I have nothing but my ovaries so my risk is very minimal. On another note, vaginal hormones are fairly safe even for women who've had cancer as they don't absorb enough to become systemic like an oral hormones.

    To end this loooong story, make sure your doc gives you all the info you need and your options. I wish I had found a natural treatment that worked, and I hope you can find one! Don't hesitate to ask any questions, a good doc will be happy to answer your questions. In my opinion it doesn't sound like you have full blown VA, but you're catching it early. The meds you were on could have thrown your pH out of whack and causing the dryness or adding to what may be starting naturally. I hope you get answers and a good natural treatment plan! Please keep us updated!

    Hugs!

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  • Posted

    Gigi, my heart breaks for your suffering. I'm so sorry you had to deal with misdiagnoses and poor doctoring for over a year. I am happy that you found something that works.

    i had a similar situation with my UTI issue last year as they kept putting me on the wrong antibiotics which caused me six months of bladder issues. That is why with this issue (even though i have to wait three days) I am going straight to my obgyn. She is the one who solved my UTI issue. I have a list of questions and i want to be tested for UTI, BV, Yeast and Strep B....along with her opinion of VA. My appt is tomorrow and i hope i know something, versus having to wait days for results. Right now the only thing that helps with pain is ibuprofen or cold packs...

    Thank you again for sharing your story! And i wish you the best!

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  • Posted

    So my OBGYN said that I am starting vaginal atrophy but also I could have some pain due to IC. She recommended Premarin (which I am not really into trying due to price and it being a hormone). I asked for any other suggestions and she mentioned getting a Vitamin E capsule - poking a hole and applying. Any thoughts on just buying Coconut oil? Any other suggestions?

    Thanks!

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    • Posted

      Hi jen,

      Do you have access to any bio identical hormone treatment. Preferably compounded? Estriol in particular that is used on the inside and outside? I don't know why doctors are still prescribing premarin as a good option for women and hormone treatment. It is synthetic and not good. What is happening to you is your body is not making estrogen and other hormones like it use to. Unfortunately as we age they won't come back. Coconut oil and Vitamin E and such might have some temporary relief but our body is not lacking coconut oil, it is lacking the nice estrogen, testosterone and progesterone that our bodies made and kept us healthy all these years. It is a decision you will have to make because vaginal atrophy won't go away if left untreated. What is most familiar on the board is it gets worse, much worse. Some women treat it long enough with estrogen creams and then quit thinking all is better only to see symptoms return. It sounds like you may have caught it in the early stages making it more likely to get turned around. Natural hormones are far less risky over synthetics. It is something you will likely have to stay on for the rest of your life. Again, its a personal decision and our health and happiness has to be taken into consideration. Living in discomfort is no fun. Just a suggestion for you to think about.

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    • Posted

      Jude,

      Thank you for the information as it was very helpful!

      I was just researching Estriol cream on Amazon. Is that type of bioidentical cream ok.....are do I need a prescription? I can see how this condition will continue to get worse as i approach menopause.

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    • Posted

      jen,

      You could certainly try the estriol cream from online but I don't think it has the same potency that you would get from a compounding pharmacy. I'm not sure where you live and how available compounding pharmacies are for you. I started seeing a holistic doctor that really knew his stuff when I was approaching menopause. I started with bio identical creams for three years and now do pellet therapy. If you can get a doctor to prescribe you estriol cream that is a good start to try and get things healing. Its the thinning of the vaginal walls and tissues that starts from lack of estrogen to those tissues. Most doctors unless they have taken the time to study these women issues are not real helpful. Finding a good doctor through this journey is really the best investment you can make for yourself.

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    • Posted

      I agree with everything Jude said.. she explained it much better than I could have, she actually told you everything my gyno explained to me! I want to add that your bladder is also estrogen dependent and could explain the UTIs or lack there of, I was treated for UTI but I didn't really have one, I just had all the symptoms. Also, do your kegels and look up pelvic floor exercises. The stronger your pelvic floor the less chance of bladder or rectal prolapse and stress incontinence. Because I had a hysterectomy, all the connective ligaments that holds everything up got removed so my PF muscles were weakened and I have Stage 1 bladder prolapse along with VA.

      Good Luck with whatever treatment you decide to do! I'm glad you got answers early!

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    • Posted

      Hi Gigi,

      Thanks for the positive comments. It is so true how our hormones keep areas protected in our bodies that we take for granted all these years. So many women on the boards are dealing with UTI's or some form of them that doctors just can't seem to clear up with multiple rounds of antibiotics. Doctors are dumbfounded and the woman is left still suffering. I just can't imagine having to deal with endless UTI's because just a few days of one is horrible enough! You are right, it is the estrogen that protects the pelvic area keeping everything nice and that includes our bladder. The thinning tissues down below makes us more susceptible for bacteria to enter into our bladder area as well. Women never seemed to talk about it to their daughters and friends but I know one thing, my daughters know whats coming, its no secret. Too many women ahead of us and today have suffered in silence. Things are changing with that I think.

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    • Posted

      Jude and Gigi,

      Thank you both for your honesty and help! Yes, my 15 year old daughter has been given all of the details as to what possibly could be in her future. My Urologist sat me down when I kept getting e-coli UTIs and said, "Look, women should have been made to be able to keep our hormones until we die. It is not fair because the hormones protect our female organs and our heart. " She told me it was just starting for me but that the lack of estrogen was causing me to be prone to my UTIs. I figured out that the prior year of battling IBS had also caused me to be more prone to UTIs no matter how clean you are....This lead me to try and be proactive and using d-mannose has ended the UTI cycle. My gastro also recommended a daily probiotic to help with IBS issues. So now, I look at it as another area I have to research and figure out the best way to treat my latest problem. Everyone was so helpful on this board - and I plan on doing my due diligence to find out what will work best for my situation. I wish you both the best and I am sure I will be stalking this board for awhile. 😃.

      Just one last question - are you ever worried about cancer using estriol cream? I

      All the best,

      Jen

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    • Posted

      ive been following this post, and am impressed the support and advice is getting more scientific. not that i have a scientific brain, but my holistic doctor has discussed similarly and just wanted to share her advice. this doctor has been a great investment into my health, i strongly recommend a holistic doctor for women reaching menopause.

      VA is a symptom of a greater cause. often its the lymphatic system out of balance as the lower bowel is producing way too much acid and leaking into the uterus and the lymph system is too overwhelmed to combat it. consider probiotics, Omega-7 & calcium (bone strengthening, dont forget the bones during and after menopause), vitamin B6 (activates hormonal health), soy products (oestrogen producing), and she mentioned mitachondria boosters that i researched foods containing CoQ10, Alpha Lipoic Acid & Acetyl-L-Carnitive.

      she advised not to insert anything into the vagina as u dont want the cervix to absorb it into the uterus, external massage will have it absorbed where it needs to go. Consider using a probiotic natural yoghurt, or coconut oil. can mix a small amount of probiotic powder like some of a femex capsule. Oestrogen creams like ovestin (think u call it estriol in the US) is fine externally too.

      my suggestion is listen to your doctor, but do your own research, and treat the cause as well as the symptoms.

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    • Posted

      HI Jen,

      Truthfully, I would be more worried about cancer risk if I wasn't protecting myself with hormones. That is how I truly feel. A woman is at the same risk as a man after menopause for a heart attack for instance because she doesn't have that protective estrogen working for her anymore. estriol is the safest of all estrogens. There are three, estriol, estrone and estrodial. Estrone is the least safe of the three. estriol alone is very beneficial. I have been on estriol, estrodial, progesterone and testosterone for over three years. Don't underestimate the benefits of testosterone as well. It is very beneficial to keep our libido alive and helps keep things healthy and lubricated downstairs for us. I have a good doctor that does regular labs. A doctor that just throws you on something without ever testing or re testing I just don't see how this can bring a good outcome for the woman. Sometimes women even feel worse and walk away from the hormone replacement. In saying all this again, it is a personal preference for each of us to make. I did my homework extensively on this and came to the conclusion if I am on bio identical hormone replacement with a doctor that knows what their doing I feel better and I am protecting myself from strokes, cancers, Alzheimer's, heart attacks, muscle loss and so many other things mentally and physically.

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    • Posted

      Jude,

      You make some excellent points. I have read that it is the safest of the three estrogens. (Estriol) I think now my issue is finding a good doctor to help as my OBGYN just threw Premarin at me. I will continue to research a local doctor. Thank you again for all of the helpful information. I really appreciate it!

      Jen

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    • Posted

      Jen,

      The doctor really is key that knows what to do. I left my main doctor, who by the way was a woman herself in her 40s. Just don't do the hormone replacement. Living in the world of the old synthetic hormone mindset. What they are taught in med school still. Hormone replacement is bad. They won't even look at bio identicals. Premarin contains the estrogen from pregnant horse urine. It is not recognized by our body ( why would it be?) and our body doesn't know what to do with it. Often making women more miserable. Fortunately more and more doctors are going into alternative medicine. You should be able to find someone. My holistic Dr. was a general practitioner for 22 years prior to going holistic medicine so I really feel I hit the jackpot with him. Problem you will find with these doctors and bio identical hormones is they are not covered under insurance. Hopefully someday they will be. Nobody likes to pay out of pocket but again I feel it is a very good investment for my health and happiness.

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    • Posted

      Since I have no uterus vaginal estrogen only is about as safe as I can get. I had a hysto because of fibroids, one the size of a softball (mistaken for my sons twin at the first ultrasound). I also have a family history of breast cancer so oral hormones are a no no for me. My risk factors for stroke, heart attack etc, are and have been high since I was born with heart issues, and take beta blockers and now high blood pressure meds. I eat a really good diet but I also have what they call Familial Hypercholesterolemia, I produce my own bad cholesterol for no reason. I'm 51, 5'3 and weigh 130 lbs, but my cholesterol is over 300, I also refuse to take statin drugs, after tons of research, IMO that stuff is poison. Anyway, I got off topic lol.. Jude should be a consultant! She's right on point about all of it! I've warned my daughter about what she can expect, shes a mom of 3, 32 yrs old and just had her tubes removed but is exhibiting peri signs already. My mom had a full hysto so she was put into surgical menopause and didn't experience any peri symptoms and never complained about vaginal issues that I know of, I know she couldnt take oral hormones either because of lumpy breasts. Shes now in a nursing home with Alzheimer's at 75, early onset at 60 and that scares the crap out of me, my grandma also had it.

      Sorry to carry on lol my point is Jude is a million times correct on how important hormones are and how doctors just dont seem to care to dig in and research and find something that's safe for every circumstance since none of us has the same problems.

      keep us updated, I love hearing success stories!

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