Genitourinary Syndrome Of Menopause – Old And Newer Treatments
Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) is a chronic condition – arising from a
decrease in your body’s estrogen levels – which affects the vagina, vulva, and sections
of the urinary tract.
Throughout history, this condition has also been referred to as atrophic vaginitis or
vulvovaginal atrophy, with all three terms being relatively interchangeable. That being
said, GSM is a more comprehensive term, since it encompasses the aspects of atrophic
vaginitis/vulvovaginal atrophy, as well as several tangential symptoms as well.
What Is Genitourinary Syndrome Of Menopause? – Causes & Symptoms
As the name suggests, genitourinary syndrome of menopause is directly linked to the time when menstrual cycles come to a permanent end.
That being said, there are other circumstances, such as breastfeeding and using certain medications, that can cause similar symptoms (usually for a short period of time). This is because the underlying cause of genitourinary syndrome of menopause is a lack of estrogen that leads to tissue thinning and inflammation.
Some of the most common symptoms of genitourinary syndrome of menopause include:
- Vaginal dryness, vaginal itching, and/or vaginal burning
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Painful sex and/or painful orgasms
- Low libido and decreased arousal
- Urinary incontinence, bladder infection, bladder dysfunction, and/or painful urination
Taking A Look At Old And New GSM Treatments
As we’ve mentioned above, the lack of estrogen that is directly related to menopause is also linked to GSM. So, as a result, it does seem logical that adding estrogen to the body should reverse the effects . . . right?
This is the line of thinking that has influenced two of the most prominent GSM treatments that have been utilized for quite some time now: local estrogen therapy and systemic estrogen therapy.
Although they both have the same end goal – increase the levels of estrogen in the body – these two treatments utilize different methods. Local estrogen therapy is the most common hormonal treatment for GSM and it involves the insertion of an estrogen supplement directly into the vaginal canal. Systemic estrogen therapy primarily involves oral medication – such as ospemifene(R) – that increases estrogen levels.
Although both of these types of treatments have produced successful results, inherent side effects often stem from the fact that they are drastically altering your body’s hormone levels. This is especially problematic because of the fact that menopause is a fundamental bodily process when estrogen levels are supposed to naturally decrease.
Topical moisturizers and lubricants have been utilized for some time now by patients who are unable to take estrogen. However, this type of treatment only provides limited relief in the form of a reduction in vaginal dryness and pain.
Thankfully, there are now contemporary non-hormonal treatments that are seeing a surge in popularity due to how highly effective they are.
Since the lasers are only used to stimulate the body’s natural neocollagenesis response, the risk of long-term side effects is significantly lower than treatments that artificially alter your body’s hormonal levels.
Don’t Wait, Get Professional Help Today!
Genitourinary syndrome of menopause affects approximately 50% of all perimenopause and postmenopause individuals. However, even though there have been significant strides in the treatment of GSM, it is still vastly undiagnosed.
The primary reason behind the lack of GSM diagnoses is that many of these prospective patients are embarrassed to discuss the aforementioned symptoms, even with medical professionals. In addition to this, the most common and prominent symptoms of GSM – namely vaginal dryness and painful sex – can also be erroneously linked to other preexisting conditions that are related to the reproductive system and urinary tract.
Whether it be hormonal treatments or non-hormonal treatments (like CO2 lasers), GSM-related therapies have higher success rates if they are utilized as soon as symptoms emerge.
So don’t wait, take control of your life back from GSM and get the help that you deserve today!