It’s estimated that half of all women experience postmenopausal genitourinary changes, which includes problems like urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, vaginal dryness, and painful intercourse. The doctors at Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists offer comprehensive women’s health care, ranging from hormone therapy to vaginal laser treatments. If you develop vaginal and urinary tract problems during and after menopause, call the office in Bellingham, Washington, or book an appointment online today.
The medical name for postmenopausal urological changes is genitourinary syndrome of menopause. It was once called vulvovaginal atrophy, or more simply vaginal atrophy until researchers discovered that menopausal changes didn’t just affect the vagina and vulva; they also caused significant changes in women’s urinary tract.
When levels of estrogen drop at menopause, bodywide symptoms develop because estrogen helps regulate many functions. Estrogen is especially important for maintaining healthy vaginal and urinary tissues. Loss of estrogen reduces blood flow and makes vaginal tissues atrophy, becoming dry, thin, and significantly less elastic. Similar changes occur in the tissues lining your urinary tract.
Women with genitourinary syndrome of menopause experience symptoms such as:
Changes in vaginal acidity also make you more susceptible to infections.
Treatments for postmenopausal changes include topical hormone therapy, systemic hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and vaginal laser therapy. Topical estrogens are safe and effective for relieving vaginal atrophy.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to bring estrogen levels back to normal improves vaginal symptoms and lowers your risk for other problems like osteoporosis. However, HRT isn’t an option for all women.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor could recommend other treatments. If urinary incontinence is your primary concern, you could benefit from therapies that specifically target that problem, such as exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, medications that calm bladder muscles, and neuromodulation to control nerve impulses.
The team at Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists provide vaginal laser treatment using the innovative diVa® laser. The diVa uses radio-frequency energy delivered to the vaginal lining, where it reaches below the surface to stimulate collagen production. The subsequent boost in collagen strengthens the vaginal wall and restores healthy tissues.
If you have questions about vaginal or urinary tract problems during and after menopause, call Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists or book an appointment online.