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By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS

The dryness, the itching, the chafing — vaginal atrophy, the thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls, is one of the most common yet underdiagnosed  symptoms of menopause.

But while it affects at least six out of every 10 Mexican women over the age of 50, the condition is not limited to those going through or post-menopause.

“There are many factors that can lead to vaginal atrophy, including the use of contraceptives, lactation, cancer, obesity, diabetes and depression,” explained gynecologist and obstetrician Alejandro Vázquez Alanís during a conference on women’s vaginal health organized by the Mexican-owned Ifa Celtics pharmaceutical company on Friday, May 27.

“And because women are often uncomfortable talking about the subject to their doctors and many physicians simply do not ask their patients about it, the large majority of these cases go undiagnosed.”

By some estimates, between 50 and 70 percent of women suffering from vaginal atrophy do not seek medical help, he said.

Basically, vaginal atrophy is caused by low estrogen levels, Vazquez Alanís said.

Although it most often occurs following menopause, more and more younger women are developing the condition.

Although treatable, vaginal atrophy can not only make intercourse painful, but can also lead to distressing urinary symptoms, including incontinence.

Vázquez Alanís, who is also a board member of the Mexican Association of Climatic Studies (AMEC), explained that many Mexican women suffer from depression, a condition which was often made worse by social lockdowns during the covid-19 pandemic.

These women are even more unlikely to report their symptoms to their doctors, and because the itching and burning can make sex unpleasant, they often avoid contact with their partners, thus isolating themselves even further.

“The sad thing is that, in most cases, the symptoms can be alleviated with a simple topical treatment,” he said.

In general, there are two types of treatments available to women with vaginal atrophy: creams with estrogen, and creams without estrogen.

“The problem with estrogen-based creams is that many women, such as those with cancer, cannot take estrogen,” noted gynecologist Julio Morfín Marín, who also spoke during the conference.

“That is why many physicians recommend creams without estrogen, such as Ifa Celtics’ Gynomunal, which moisturizes and hydrates the genital and vaginal regions with hyaluronic acid, liposomes and vitamin E, all of which are naturally occuring in the human body.”

And because it is hormonal-free, he said, most women can use it continually as needed to discreetly treat their vaginal atrophy symptoms.

Notwithstanding, both Morfín Marín, who is a spokesperson for Ifa Celtics, and Vazquez Alanís stressed that before using Gynomunal or any other treatment for vaginal atrophy, patients should first consult their physician.

“It is important to talk to your doctor so that he or she can find the root cause of the condition and recommend the appropriate treatment for your particular case,” Vazquez Alanís said.

“The important thing is that there is treatment available, and no woman should have to limit her social interactions or endure restrictions on their lifestyles because they have vaginal atrophy.”

 

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