Can I develop vulvovaginitis after menopause?

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health

Vulvovaginitis is an inclusive term for infection or tissue irritation of the vagina and external structures of the labia and perineum. While any term ending in "itis" infers infection, it has come to be used with both infectious processes and some chronic dermatological or skin conditions. The type of vaginal infection can vary with age. Most recent data indicate that women have less yeast infections after menopause while the incidence of bacterial vaginosis infections increases.

Dr. Lauren D. Juyia, DO
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Vulvovaginitis is a generic term for any sort of inflammation of the vagina, which can include infection or irritation from a different source. While it is possible for a woman to develop vulvovaginitis after menopause, it’s less common. That's because hormones are more stable after menopause and the estrogen-deprived tissue seems to be less susceptible to certain types of infection.

You can develop vulvovaginitis at any time in your life, including in postmenopausal years. Some symptoms associated with vulvovaginitis, such as irritation, itching, burning or tenderness, may be worsened in postmenopausal women. This is caused by the thinning (atrophy) of vaginal tissues, especially those surrounding the opening of the vagina, due to a lack of estrogen hormones. Postmenopausal women can also contract candidal vulvovaginitis (also known as a yeast infection), though it is more common in pre-menopausal women. Treatment for vulvovaginitis in postmenopausal women may include antifungal or antibacterial medication, lubricants or hormone therapy in the form of tablets, creams, pills or vaginal rings. However, hormone therapy treatment of vulvovaginitis is reserved for extreme cases.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.