There have been an inordinate number of women presenting to my clinical practice over the last month with an incorrect diagnosis of their vaginal health issues. They all have experienced vaginal burning, itching, and vaginal dryness. All of them have been to their doctors, yet none of them have been diagnosed properly. Therefore, the treatments they have been prescribed (often repeatedly), have not worked, which comes as no surprise.

All of these women have either been peri-menopausal or menopausal. They have all been sexually active however their “condition” has rendered them unable to have sex because of the sexual pain from the dryness symptoms they have been experiencing. Each one of them has been frustrated with their situation because of the negative impact on their quality of life.

By now you’re probably wondering what I’m referring to? All of these women have erroneously been misdiagnosed with having a yeast infection vs. vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness is a condition that may result in itching and burning and it is common during the menopausal years.

Most yeast infections are caused by Candida Albicans. Yeast lives in the vagina in small numbers but may overgrow due to antibiotic use, pregnancy or high estrogen levels. Vaginal dryness, on the other hand, is rooted in low estrogen levels, common during the peri-menopausal and menopausal years.  A yeast infection causes itching or discomfort in the vagina and may lead to painful urination (dysuria) and/or painful sex (dyspareunia).

A woman or her doctor may notice a white discharge however a yeast infection is generally diagnosed by a vaginal swab taken by your doctor and sent to the lab. Vaginal dryness is diagnosed symptomatically and by visual inspection of the labia and vaginal exam.

The treatments for each are quite different.  For a yeast infection, the treatment is quite simple a one-time tablet of an over the counter medication.  A woman may want to avoid washing her intimate area with soap or avoid taking baths and/or consuming sugar all which may contribute to an increase in yeast overgrowth. Remember, the vagina is a self-cleaning oven.

For vaginal dryness, a personal moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid to repair vaginal tissues and Vitamin E to keep vaginal tissues youthful is recommended as a first step. It is important that a woman use a personal moisturizer daily for two to three weeks then twice weekly at night for the rest of her life. It is just as important to moisturize your vagina as it is your face.

I recommend RepaGyn for my patients with vaginal dryness because it is an ovule, so it is not messy and contains the ingredients required to repair vaginal tissues and retain moisture. All of my patients were delighted to have the proper diagnosis so they could get onto this over the counter treatment which didn’t require a prescription. So if you are a menopausal lady with vaginal discomfort and/or painful sex that has been diagnosed with a yeast infection and the treatment isn’t working, ask your doctor if it could be vaginal dryness and get back to the bedroom with the right treatment, RepaGyn!

Maureen McGrath

Maureen McGrath

Host of the CKNW Sunday Night Health Show on Corus Radio. As a leading women's health expert and Registered Nurse, I understand the importance that sexual, vaginal, bladder and bowel health has on overall health and relationships.

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