Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause

Menopause is a transitional period that occurs in women due to hormonal changes. Menopause can lead to several syndromes, such as weight changes, mood fluctuations, and many more. This is something that occurs at a certain age in every woman.

Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) is a chronic condition that affects the vagina, vulva, and lower urinary tract. It was formally referred to as vulvovaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis. Characteristics of this condition include:

  • Pain during sex
  • Pain and discomfort in the vulvovaginal part
  • Reduced libido[1]
  • Urinary tract issues

Continue reading this article to learn about the genitourinary syndrome of menopause, what causes it, what are the symptoms, treatments and more.

Causes of GSM

As a woman grows older, the level of estrogen produced from the ovaries reduces. Estrogen is a sex hormone that contributes to the general development of the body and activities, such as:

  • Glucose metabolism
  • Puberty
  • Menstruation
  • Bone health
  • Insulin sensitivity

The chances of production of estrogen from the ovaries becomes very low after menopause and in those who may have hormonal imbalance. [2] Low estrogen levels are the primary cause for the symptoms of genitourinary syndrome of menopause.

Tissues that receive estrogen include the vulva, vagina, bladder, and urethra. When the estrogen levels start to decrease, it causes a change in anatomy and function of these tissues mentioned above. Some of the changes that may occur include:

  • Elasticity
  • Thickness of the skin
  • Flow of blood
  • Muscle function

Certain people are more at risk of developing genitourinary syndrome of menopause than others. These include:

  • People who have had surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy).
  • Those who are to experience menopause or have already experienced it.
  • Those who have a history of alcohol abuse.
  • Those who have a history of smoking.
  • Those who do not engage in sexual activity often.
  • Those who are undergoing cancer treatment. [3]

If you think you might be at risk of getting GSM, you should discuss with your doctor.