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Vaginal Stenosis: What Causes it & Treatments

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Vaginal Stenosis: What Causes it & Treatments

Vaginial stenosis is a condition when your vagina (birth canal) becomes narrowed or shortened. The abnormal change brings about severe discomfort and threatens pelvic health. According to the National Cancer Institute, vaginal stenosis can cause a painful sex life and uncomfortable gynecological exams. 

The causes of vaginal stenosis vary from woman to woman, but the most commons reasons include the following:

    Pelvic radiation therapy (PRT): It's a standard treatment a woman receives when they have cancer. The targeted radiation therapy destroys and prevents new cancer cells from forming. PRT treats all types of cancer, from breast cancer to endometrial and uterine cancer. While the PRT is an integral part of surviving cancer, one side effect is vaginal stenosis. The radiation changes the shape of the vagina, making sexual activity painful. (2)

    Episiotomy: During childbirth, the birth canal may not be large enough to birth the child vaginally. The obstetrician makes a small incision at the opening of the vagina. The incision may result in scar tissue or changes in the shape of the vagina, resulting in vaginal stenosis. (3) 

    Vaginal reconstructive surgery: It's the creation of a new or artificial vagina after a vaginectomy (the removal of the vagina). Another name for vaginal reconstructive surgery is vaginoplasty. (4)

    Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH): It’s a rare disease that prevents the creation of certain hormones, such as androgens. This causes other hormones to overcompensate and create issues with the formations of genitals. (5)
        Gender reassignment surgery: This kind of surgery changes males to females (MTF) or female to male (FTM). In the case of MTF, a new vagina is formed with the skin of the penis. Afterward, the new vagina needs therapy with a pelvic therapy wand to expand and stretch the vaginal tissue to allow for sexual activity and the prevention of certain health conditions. (6)

        Chronic pelvic pain syndrome: The condition is ongoing pain associated with the pelvis and has no discernible cause. The chronic pelvic pain lasts longer than six months, and specific triggers, such as touch or intimate relationships, cause a flare-up. (7)

          Signs of vaginal stenosis

          The most prominent sign of vaginal stenosis is pelvic pain. Although the condition can result in abnormal vaginal atrophy or extreme dryness, and the vagina tissues can become papery thin and tender.

          Another symptom is the buildup of scar tissue may form from having pelvic radiation or an episiotomy. All of which can have a dire effect on women's sexual health. Men's health may be affected too by symptoms similar to vaginal stenosis. When a man suffers with prostate cancer, he may undergo radiation therapy, as well. (8)

          Treatments of vaginal stenosis

          While vaginal stenosis is painful, there are a few different treatment options.

          Increase vaginal moisture

          When you give yourself vaginal massage therapy, natural moisturization may develops. However, you can increase vaginal moisturization through hormone therapy, vaginal moisturizer, and diet.   

            Hormone therapy: It's replacing the missing hormones in your body with natural ones. One important female hormone is estrogen. Levels of estrogen naturally decrease as you age, but an imbalance can cause vaginal atrophy. Estrogen therapy is controversial but can help improve moisture and alleviate chronic pelvic pain. (11)

            Vagininal moisturizer: Using a natural moisturizer with organic ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin E hydrates and rejuvenates tight vaginal muscles. 
             
            Healthy diet: When you eat a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals, you increase the natural moisturizer in your body. Some of the best foods to eat to increase vaginal health include avocados, cranberries, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens. Eating a healthy diet not only improves vaginal health and vaginal stenosis, but it also helps you feel younger and more energetic. (12) 

            Vaginal stenosis is a severe problem that impairs your ability to have a high quality of life. Your health and wellness depend on finding the right health care and treatment to find relief.

            1. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/vaginal-stenosis
            2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4663381/
            3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4175536/
            4. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/vaginal-cancer/treatment/surgery/vaginal-reconstruction
            5. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/congenital-adrenal-hyperplasia/
            6. https://transcare.ucsf.edu/guidelines/vaginoplasty
            7. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2016/0301/p380.html
            8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5017559/
            9. https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-pain/myofascial-release
            10. https://www.medicinenet.com/hormone_therapy/article.htm
            11. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/food-for-vagina



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