Big Ow Campaign Offers Help for Vaginal Atrophy

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Millions of women experience symptoms of vaginal atrophy, yet many of them don’t talk about it. The Big Ow Campaign wants to help change that by raising awareness of this common menopausal and postmenopausal condition and encourage women to get help.

Hot flashes, weight gain, problems with sleep, and irritability are all too familiar to women as they go through menopause. Vaginal atrophy is another common problem, yet many women are reluctant or too embarrassed to talk about it with their doctors. If they did, they would discover that there are simple, effective ways to get relief.

Vaginal atrophy, also known as atrophic vaginitis, is thinning and inflammation of the walls of the vagina caused by a decline in estrogen levels. Although it is most common during and after menopause, it can also develop at any time the body’s estrogen production falls, as during breastfeeding.

Symptoms of vaginal atrophy include vaginal dryness, vaginal burning, watery vaginal discharge, urinary incontinence, burning with urination, discomfort with intercourse, and light bleeding after intercourse. Treatment is readily available and can include mess-free topical vaginal estrogen cream that is injected directly into the vagina, a vaginal estrogen ring that releases the hormone over a three month period, or a vaginal estrogen tablet that is placed into the vagina.

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Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers or water-based lubricants can relieve vaginal dryness temporarily but do not address the cause of the symptoms, which is the decline in estrogen levels. A new non-estrogen therapy called Ophena (ospemifene) may be available in 2010.

In Canada, where the Big Ow Campaign has been launched, it is estimated that as many as two million women will be affected by vaginal atrophy in the next decade. According to Dr. Shawna Johnston, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Queen’s University, vaginal atrophy does not go away without treatment, and it can even get worse. She discusses vaginal atrophy in a video on the Big Ow Campaign website.

The Big Ow Campaign is encouraging women to talk to their doctor and other women about their symptoms. The campaign’s website offers women information about vaginal atrophy, tips on how to talk to their doctor, and additional resources.

Although the Big Ow Campaign is a Canadian project, its message reaches across all borders to women in the United States and elsewhere. Vaginal atrophy can affect any woman of menopausal or postmenopausal age, but the pain and discomfort that it can cause do not have to be a part of life or end a woman’s sex life. One click on the Big Ow Campaign website could get you one step closer to relief.

SOURCES:
Big Ow Campaign website
Mayo Clinic
Quatrx.com

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