Vaginal Atrophy: What is it & Does it Hurt?

“Vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) is the thinning, drying & inflammation of the vaginal walls that may occur when your body has less oestrogen. Vaginal atrophy occurs most often after menopause. For many women, vaginal atrophy not only makes intercourse painful but also leads to distressing urinary symptoms” [1]

Vulva Pain Specialists sometimes use the terminology, ‘genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM)’ to describe vaginal atrophy and its associated symptoms. – This is because vaginal atrophy
is responsible for both urinary and vaginal symptoms. However, looking on the bright side, effective treatments are available for GSM, and when you visit a Vulva Pain Specialist, after reviewing your medical history, and asking you various questions pertaining to your symptoms, they will devise a holistic Personalised Treatment Plan. This could include both conventional, and the latest cutting-edge treatments

Putting a Spotlight on the Symptoms of Vaginal Atrophy

“Reduced oestrogen levels result in changes to your body, but it doesn’t mean you have to live with the discomfort of GSM” [1]

Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) symptoms and signs comprise:

•Vaginal discharge
•Virginal burning
•Virginal dryness
•Genital itching
•Frequent urination
•Urgency to urinate
•Burning with urination
•Urinary incontinence
•Recurring urinary tract infections
•Discomfort during intercourse
•Light bleeding post-intercourse
•Reduced vaginal lubrication during sexual activity
•Tightening and shortening of the vaginal canal [1]

When Should I See a Vulva Pain Specialist?

If you are suffering from GSM, then you are not alone, as a high percentage of women are confronted by it. Yet many of them just suffer in silence, as they see it as a taboo subject, and are often too embarrassed to discuss it with their GP. Fortunately, however, the tide is changing, and acknowledgment and understanding of this condition which affects countless millions of women, is being talked about in the media, and in books such as Viva La Vulva, by renowned Vulvodynia and Pain Specialist, Dr Chris Jenner.

So if you are postmenopausal, and are experiencing GSM, and have any soreness, burning, abnormal discharge, unexplained vaginal bleeding or spotting; or if you are suffering from painful intercourse which is not ameliorated by applying a water-based lubricant or vaginal moisturizer, then make an in-person or online appointment with a Vulva Pain Consultant as soon as you can.


[1]. Mayo Clinic (2022). “Vaginal Atrophy.”,leads%20to%20distressing%20urinary%20symptoms.