It’s not a comfortable topic of discussion for most women, but your vaginal health is an important part of your complete wellness. This is true even if you’re past childbearing, since problems with your vagina can be symptoms of other health issues; they may cause urinary issues; and they can impact your sex life. When you reach menopause, it takes some time to settle into your “new normal,” and it can be tricky to figure out what’s natural and what’s dysfunctional. Understanding vaginal health is important for your own self-care.
Things that affect vaginal health
Perhaps the most obvious factor affecting vaginal health is pregnancy and childbirth. There are both physical and functional changes that occur throughout this cycle, including the interruption of menstrual periods, increases in vaginal discharge, the risk of tears during delivery, and sometimes a decrease in muscle tone after delivery.
Some of these changes are due to hormones, another major factor affecting vaginal health. Estrogen production falls during breastfeeding as well as after menopause. Birth control methods that feature a hormonal component can also cause changes in your vagina, whether you’re using pills, implants, or hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs).
Barrier contraceptives, including diaphragms and condoms, can cause irritation of vaginal tissue, as can spermicides and even feminine hygiene products. In addition, unprotected sex puts you at risk of sexually transmitted infections.
Some health conditions, such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease, affect your vagina. Also, treatments for other conditions, such as radiation and chemotherapy for cancer; and antibiotics for infections (which raise the risk of vaginal yeast infections), can also affect vaginal tissue. In addition,anything that undermines your self-confidence can cause vaginal issues, particularly when it’s related to sexual performance and enjoyment.
When you should see the doctor
Any time you’re concerned about your vagina or aspects of its health is a good time to make an appointment with your doctor here at Pineapple Health. Even if there’s nothing wrong, you can learn more about yourself and your vaginal function at the visit. And the reassurance you gain can ease any psychological effects that might otherwise arise.
Any noticeable changes to your vagina or its functions should alert you to come in. These changes may include:
- Discomfort or pain during sex
- Unusual vaginal discharge or changes to the color or odor of your usual discharge
- Vaginal bleeding at times other than menstruation, such as after intercourse or after menopause
- Itchiness, redness, or other changes to the visible tissue of your vagina
- Feelings of fullness or bulging in or around your vagina
- Urinary incontinence
Treatments for vaginal health
With the wide range of potential causes behind changes in your vagina, treatments are similarly expansive. Quick response to these changes usually leads to prevention of more serious issues.
One of the more common causes of change is the vaginal atrophy that follows menopause due to lower estrogen production. Typical signs of the disorder include vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence, and pain during intercourse. Dr. Chan and the team at Pineapple Health are pleased to offer the Geneveve™ system, a radiofrequency treatment for menopausal patients and others who may be suffering from issues caused by vaginal laxity after childbirth. We also offer hormone replacement therapy.
Pineapple Health is your partner in vaginal health. Contact the office today, by phone at 480-531-6001 or online, to arrange your consultation, discuss a problem, or schedule a well woman appointment.