August 8, 2012 — Only about one-fourth of the millions of women who experience vaginal pain report the problem to a health care professional, the New York Times' "Well" reports. Meanwhile, women who do voice concerns are often incorrectly told that there is nothing medically wrong and that the condition is untreatable, "Well" notes.
There are many causes of vaginal pain, but the condition most often results from a loss of estrogen, which can cause vaginal dryness and atrophy. Vaginal atrophy involves a thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls from a loss of estrogen. It can result in dryness and burning, a shortening of the vaginal canal, and urinary problems -- all of which can make intercourse painful.
Many women with vaginal pain are nearing or past menopause, have recently given birth, are breastfeeding, are undergoing treatment with estrogen-suppressing drugs or other cancer treatments, or have had their ovaries removed.
Effective treatments often involve several complementary approaches, according to "Well." Local treatments -- such as a vaginal estrogen ring, estrogen tablets or creams -- can help, as well as over-the-counter lubricants and physical therapy (Brody, "Well," New York Times, 8/6).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership