What is vulvovaginal atrophy?
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HealthyWomen
Administration Specialist

Vulvovaginal atrophy is a fancy name for a vulva and vagina that no longer have the beneficial effects from estrogen that they did prior to menopause.

Lower estrogen levels significantly affect the vagina, impacting its ability to secrete lubricant, to expand and contract and to grow new cells. Over time, blood flow diminishes, and the vagina and vulva can atrophy, or shrink, as cells die off and aren't replaced.

The result? Soreness, burning after sex, pain during intercourse and, sometimes, post-sex bleeding.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Administration Specialist

When estrogen levels remain low, less moisture comes through the vaginal wall to provide lubrication during intercourse. The elastic and collagen fibers that give the opening strength and stretchiness decrease in number, and the skin of the opening becomes thinner and less protective. Sometimes, the opening shrinks and becomes quite narrow. The thinning of the skin can make penetration more uncomfortable than pleasurable for some women, and when the vaginal opening narrows, intercourse can be very painful. When a woman stops having vaginal intercourse due to pain, the changes may worsen even faster. In rare, extreme cases, thinning of the tissue may lead to tiny abrasions that cause the sides of the vaginal opening to stick together and the opening may become fused closed in places.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause

FROM THE EDITORS OF THE CLASSIC "BIBLE OF WOMEN'S HEALTH," A TRUSTWORTHY, UP-TO-DATE GUIDE TO HELP EVERY WOMAN NAVIGATE THE MENOPAUSE TRANSITION For decades, millions of women have relied on Our...

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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.