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Vaginal Atrophy and Chronic Pain

Common dryness associated with vaginal atrophy may be alleviated with oxytocin gel

A PPM Brief

Pain specialists and gynecologists may struggle to manage pain in women living with vaginal atrophy due to its complicated nature. Researchers set out to identify the “most bothersome symptom” in this patient population. A cross-sectional, multicenter study of just over 900 postmenopausal women determined that vaginal dryness was the most prevalent bothersome symptom (54.4%). This symptom’s effect seemed to increase in accordance with the number of years since the woman reached menopause.

Secondary symptoms most often reported included: dyspareunia (17.6%), itching (7.8%), dysuria (5.9%), and burning (2.0%).

“In each woman, the identification of the MBS [most bothersome symptom] may help to define more appropriate VA [vaginal atrophy] management” concluded the authors.

In a recent related study, researchers led by H.A. Torky in Cairo, Egypt, conducted a prospective randomized controlled trial to “test the effectiveness of topical oxytocin gel to improve vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women.” 

Two groups of 70 patients received intravaginal oxytocin gel or placebo gel for 30 days, preceded and followed by histological vaginal examination as well as tests of serum estrogen level and visual colposcopic. The researchers found that 47 out of 70 women in the oxytocin gel group improved after treatment compared to none in the placebo group (P = 0.001) improved. Additionally, 45 patients in the oxytocin group and seven in the placebo group reported relief of dyspareunia (P = 0.001); while 34 in the oxytocin group and seven in the placebo group reported relief of soreness (P = 0.001).

The authors concluded that the gel may be useful in the restoration of the vaginal epithelium in cases of postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis, with the caveat that more research is needed to determine long-term effects.

Last updated on: April 13, 2018
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