Vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA) is a condition associated with menopause. Its symptoms include dryness, discomfort, and pain in the vaginal and vulvar areas. (The vulva is the genital area outside of the vagina.) Some women have itching, burning sensations, and vaginal discharges as well.
During menopause, a woman’s estrogen levels decline significantly. This causes some cellular changes in the genitals. Vaginal tissue can become dry, brittle and less flexible. If a woman doesn’t have sex regularly, her vagina may become shorter and narrower.
Sex is often difficult for women with VVA. Many women have problems with lubrication as the vaginal walls secrete less fluid, making sex uncomfortable. The friction of a man’s penis may cause tearing and bleeding in the vagina.
About half of postmenopausal women develop VVA. While it can interfere with sex and day-to-day life, there are treatments available.