Typically, the vaginal lining consists of healthy tissues that are several layers thick and naturally moist. A dry vaginal lining becomes thinner and loses natural moisture.
Genitourinary syndrome of menopause is caused by a decrease in estrogen production. Less estrogen makes your vaginal tissues thinner, drier, less elastic and more fragile.
A drop in estrogen levels may occur:
- After menopause
- During the years leading up to menopause (perimenopause)
- After surgical removal of both ovaries (surgical menopause)
- During breast-feeding
- While taking medications that can affect estrogen levels, such as some birth control pills
- After pelvic radiation therapy for cancer
- After chemotherapy for cancer
- As a side effect of breast cancer hormonal treatment
GSM signs and symptoms may begin to bother you during the years leading up to menopause, or they may not become a problem until several years into menopause. Although the condition is common, not all menopausal women experience GSM. Regular sexual activity, with or without a partner, can help you maintain healthy vaginal tissues.