Written by Miss Shree Datta for Doctify
As you get older you may see visible changes to your face, with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. While this is widely known and accepted, it is less commonly understood that when oestrogen decreases during the menopause, your vagina can lose its elasticity too! Consultant Gynaecologist Shree Datta explains vulval and urinary symptoms that you should look out for & what to do to keep your vagina in good shape.
Vaginal soreness is a common symptom seen particularly at the time of the menopause (but can also be seen after delivering a baby). Causes can include skin changes related to the menopause, infection or tears at the time of birth. A careful history and an examination is required to see whether you will benefit from medication, refashioning or laser treatment with the new Mona Lisa Touch – a non-surgical, minimally invasive treatment.
Medication treatment includes steroid creams or ointments, or Hormone Replacement Therapy where appropriate. In some cases, we may need to monitor your progress and consider a biopsy if things do not heal. Factors which can lead to skin changes around the vaginal area include a history of atopy, with conditions such as eczema or asthma.
Cause of Vaginal Soreness
One of the main aggravating causes of vaginal and vulval skin irritation is urinary incontinence. This can be an extremely distressing condition which can disrupt your daily activities, so it’s important to identify and treat symptoms early as there are lots of treatment options.
For most women, we take a detailed history of symptoms and consider any factors which may contribute to symptoms – for example, being overweight or smoking. Stress incontinence usually presents with urine leakage on coughing, laughing or moving and is often seen after childbirth.
After examining, we usually test for infection by testing a sample of your urine. We may also ask you to keep a record of how much you drink and when and refer you for Urodynamics tests – an assessment to assess how the bladder and urethra are performing.
Things to watch out for include repeated or prolonged urinary tract infections, blood in your urine, recent trauma to your back, loss of sensation in the buttocks or pelvic area and general symptoms of malaise.
What to Do?
If you have any of these symptoms, we would like to see you urgently to see whether you need further investigations and early treatment. This may include checking your kidney function via blood tests or an ultrasound.
If you have repeated urinary infections or blood in your urine, we may need to have a look inside your bladder (cystoscopy) to exclude chronic infections such as interstitial cystitis or in some cases, bladder cancer.
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