Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause or also known as GSM, is a condition caused by the decrease in estrogen production. Continuous decrease of estrogen results in having thinner vaginal tissues. It also results in vaginal tissues becoming drier, less elastic, and more fragile. The term Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause or GSM may not be known to many, but it might actually be already happening to you. So what is it?
According to studies, and this may surprise some women, women who smoke, haven’t given birth, or have an inactive sexual lifestyle are actually more prone to GSM.
Smoking – Smoking cigarettes affects blood circulation and may lessen the flow of oxygen to the vagina. Smoking doesn’t only lessen the flow of oxygen; it also reduces the effects of naturally occurring estrogens in a woman’s body.
No Vaginal Births – studies actually have given proof that women who haven’t given birth are more prone to having GSM than those women who have.
No Sexual Activity – Sexual activity increases blood flow. It’s like an exercise or a workout for your vagina. Lack of this “workout” or exercise may result in vaginal tissues becoming less elastic.
New Treatments Discovered
So, if you are suffering from vaginal issues, there are solutions. These treatments are intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), oral ospemifene, and a low-dose estradiol vaginal insert or cream.
Intravaginal Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
This is a vaginally administered suppository steroid indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse), a frequent symptom of vulvovaginal atrophy due to menopause or genitourinary syndrome of menopause.
Ospemifene is used to treat women with moderate to severe dyspareunia (painful intercourse) and moderate to severe vaginal dryness caused by menopause. Low estrogen levels may cause changes in the vulvar and vaginal areas that lead to atrophy (a shrinking of tissues) and dryness. Ospemifene works like natural estrogen in the body.
Low-Dose Estradiol Vaginal Insert
This is a kind of estrogen treatment to be taken through the vaginal insert. I have found this to be the most effective for myself and my patients. It not only helps the vaginal lining but can also help with frequent and urgent urination.
Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause is not fun and happens to many going through menopause. But there are solutions. Working with a hormone specialist is what I always suggest. Your GP or gyno may not be up to date about hormone research and options.
Staying healthy and active can also help. Eating nutritious and healthy food, exercising and doing the basic of self-care such as good sleep and proper rest are all important. Regular sexual activity, either with or without a partner, may help prevent genitourinary syndrome of menopause. Sexual activity increases blood flow to your vagina, which helps keep vaginal tissues healthy. So go for it! It will not just prevent you from having GSM, it will also keep you warm on those cold nights.