If the tissues of the mucous membranes of vagina become thin and dry due to an insufficient level of sex hormones (especially estrogen) in peri-menopause (i.e., the time just preceding menopause) or menopause, the vagina may become easily bruised, painful, and susceptible to infections.[1, 2] Irritation of the vagina due to tissue atrophy (i.e., tissue degeneration) is called atrophic vaginitis.
See our Q&A called Atrophic Vaginitis.
A variety of ways to manage and treat atrophic vaginitis are available, including the following self-care, naturopathic, homeopathic, and psychological approaches:[1, 2]
Achieve and maintain and healthy body mass index (i.e., ratio of weight to height)
Eat a healthy diet that is abundant in freshly-caught, cold-water fish; whole grains; fresh, organic vegetables and fruits; and healthy fats.
Enjoy foods containing soy, as soy contains phytoestrogens, plant substances that can mimic some of the effects of estrogen on the body,
Do not eat non-organically raised meat and poultry and non-organic dairy products.
If you eat meat, poultry, and dairy products, select organically-raised meat and poultry and organic dairy products, such as organic unsweetened yogurt.
To help prevent yeast infections, limit your intake of dried fruits, fruit juice, candy, pastries, pies, cakes, cookies, and ice cream.
Avoid drinking beverages containing caffeine and/or alcohol.
Drink lots of water.
Do not smoke cigarettes.
Take oral supplements taking vitamin A and E. Consult your integrative medical physician for guidance on doses that are appropriate for you.
Take oral supplements containing soy isoflavones and/or black cohosh. These botanical supplements contain phytoestrogens, which can mimic some of the effects of estrogen on the body. Consult your integrative medical physician for guidance on the dose that is appropriate for you.
To help prevent yeast infections of the vagina, avoid using commercial deodorants for the vagina and commercial douches, as these products can destroy healthy bacteria in the vagina.
Wear underpants made of cotton, rather than nylon.
Avoid wearing pantyhose for long periods of time.
Wear clothes that are loose-fitting in the pelvic area.
Insert suppositories of vitamin A, vitamin E, calendula, dioscorea, or other types of soothing herbal suppositories designed for vaginal use into your vagina. For example, vitamin E, has lubricating, soothing, and healing properties. You can obtain the vitamin- and herbal-based suppositories through your integrative medical physician. If you are allergic to glycerin, do not use suppositories containing glycerin. If you are using latex condoms during intercourse later, do not use suppositories containing calendula oil or glycerin, as these components can cause disintegration of latex condoms.
Apply a 1:1 mixture of vitamin E, which has lubricating, soothing, and healing properties, and either a water-soluble lubricant for the vagina, calendula oil, or petroleum jelly to your vulva and the inside of your vagina. If you are using latex condoms during intercourse, use either pure vitamin E or a 1:1 mixture of vitamin E and a water-soluble lubricant, as the calendula oil or petroleum jelly can cause disintegration of latex condoms. If you are allergic to glycerin present in water-soluble lubricants, use either pure vitamin E or a 1:1 mixture of vitamin E and either calendula oil or petroleum jelly. Consult with your integrative medical physician for guidance on the dose of vitamin E that is appropriate for you.
If you have rawness of the labia and vulva and you do not have a yeast infection, apply calendula cream to the external vulva and external labia.
Take a homeopathic remedy orally, such as Argentum nitricum, Arsenicum album, Aurum metallicum, Natrum muriaticum, Platinum metallicum, Pulsatilla, sarcodes, Sepia, Staphysagria, Sulfur, and Thuja. Consult with a homeopath, a healthcare professional experienced in the use of homeopathy for guidance on selection of the homeopathic remedy and dose that is appropriate for you.
Perform yoga postures that involve pelvic motion to increase circulation of blood and channel energy into the pelvic area.
Build and maintain warm relationships with family and friends.
Work with a psychologist or psychiatrist to resolve possible issues about past history of sexual abuse, negative attitudes towards sex, disappointments with past romantic partners, or problems with your spouse or current romantic partner.
With your spouse or current romantic partner, explore counseling with a psychologist or sex therapist.
With your spouse or current romantic partner, practice safe sex and enjoy sexual practices other than or in addition to vaginal intercourse.
If you are not currently in a romantic relationship and seeking a new partner, select a person who is patient, understanding, caring, and gentle.
If the self-care, naturopathic, homeopathic, and psychological approaches discussed above do not resolve the symptoms of atrophic vaginitis, consult your integrative medical physician and gynecologist to discuss whether treatment with bio-identical hormones is appropriate for you.
If, despite the self-care, naturopathic, homeopathic, and psychological approaches above, you are experiencing recurrent yeast infections of the vagina due to atrophic vaginitis, consult your integrative medical physician and gynecologist to discuss other naturopathic approaches and medical treatment options (e.g., anti-fungal medications) for vaginal yeast infections.
1. J Reichenberg-Ullman. Whole Woman Homeopathy. 2004. Edmonds, WA: Picnic Point Press.
2. I Ikenze. Menopause & Homeopathy: A Guide for Women at Midlife. 1998. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.