What Is Clitoral Atrophy and How’s It Treated

What Is Clitoral Atrophy And How’s It Treated?

Clitoral atrophy (also known as gynecomastia) is a condition where the size of the clitoris decreases or disappears altogether. A woman may have no clitoris at all, or she may only have one small fold of skin covering it. Sometimes there are other changes in appearance such as thickening, thinning, and scarring.

The exact cause of clitoral atrophy is unknown, but it is thought to result from hormonal changes during puberty. The most common causes include:

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Women taking hormone replacement therapy (such as birth control pills) often experience a decrease in their sexual desire due to these drugs. This can lead to decreased libido and a loss of sensitivity in the genital region. These drugs can also increase the risk of blood clots.

Menopause: Menopause is a time when estrogen levels drop significantly. Many women experience diminished sexual desire during this time. Other symptoms include vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, weight gain and hair loss.

Genital Mutilation: Some cultures practice genital cutting of girls before they reach puberty to prevent them from becoming promiscuous and to ensure virginity until marriage.

Radiotherapy: Some women undergo radiotherapy as a treatment for various cancers. This can sometimes lead to a decrease in sexual desire and genital numbness.

Other: Medication side effects, depression and other mental health issues, certain infections and autoimmune diseases (like lupus), surgery, and even cervical cancer can also cause atrophic changes in the genitals.

Atrophic changes in the genitals may or may not be accompanied by other physical symptoms. Some women will only experience changes in the appearance of their genitalia, while others will also suffer from serious problems such as vaginal dryness and painful sexual interaction.

What Are The Symptoms Of Clitoral Atrophy?

The symptoms of atrophic changes in the genitals are generally obvious. A woman may notice that the clitoris has shrunk or even disappeared altogether. The labia minora (inner lips) may also become thinner, swell, and take on a wrinkly appearance. The urethra (an opening present below the clitoris) may also grow larger, which can sometimes cause difficulty when trying to urinate.

What Are The Treatments For Clitoral Atrophy?

Most cases of atrophic changes in the genitals do not require treatment. Hormone replacement therapy can be taken to prevent or reverse the symptoms, but it is rarely used as a treatment due to the risks involved.

If hormonal changes are not causing the clitoral atrophy, then women should consult their general practitioner about other treatment options. A urologist may be needed if there are any issues relating to the urinary tract.

In some severe cases, a minor surgical procedure may be required to correct the appearance of the genitalia. However, this is very rare and only considered when all other treatment options have failed.

Does Clitoral Atrophy Go Away On Its Own?

Most cases of atrophy only go away on their own if there are no underlying causes or ongoing causes that need to be addressed. This means that if a woman is taking hormonal medication, then she should consult her doctor to determine if the drug is causing the atrophy and find an alternative.

For example, many women who suffer from menopause may experience decreased sexual desire, vaginal dryness, and atrophic changes in the genitals. The use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can prevent or reverse these symptoms. Some women, however, may not suffer from menopausal symptoms and the use of HRT is strictly to prevent any potential symptoms from occurring in the future.

If a woman is undergoing HRT and doesn’t suffer from menopausal symptoms and is still experiencing atrophic changes in the genitals, then she should seek medical attention as this may be an allergic reaction or an indication of a more serious condition.

Is There Anything I Can Do To Prevent It?

There is nothing that can be done to prevent atrophic changes in the genitals. The only option is to seek medical attention and receive treatment if necessary.

What Is The Long-Term Outlook?

The long-term outlook for women with atrophic changes in the genitals is largely dependent on what is causing the changes in the first place. For example, if a woman’s symptoms are caused by hormonal imbalance then her outlook is extremely positive as this can easily be treated with Hormone Replacement Therapy.

However, if a woman’s symptoms are caused by another underlying condition then her outlook will be less positive. It is important that women suffering from atrophic changes in the genitals seek medical attention immediately so their condition can be diagnosed and given the proper treatment.

Sources & references used in this article:

Treating dyspareunia caused by vaginal atrophy: a review of treatment options using vaginal estrogen therapy by SA Kingsberg, S Kellogg… – International journal of …, 2009 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Diagnosis and treatment procedures of pubococcygeal deficiencies in women by G Kline-Graber, B Graber – Handbook of sex therapy, 1978 – Springer

Female sexual dysfunction: evaluation and treatment by NA Phillips – American family physician, 2000 – aafp.org

Current treatment options for postmenopausal vaginal atrophy by I Naumova, C Castelo-Branco – International journal of women’s …, 2018 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

SURGICAL TREATMENT OF CLITORAL PHIMOSIS by C Aboud, S Cristinelli, G Roccaro… – Journal of Gynecology …, 2020 – Elsevier

Genital lichen sclerosus in childhood and adolescence—a retrospective case series of 15 patients: early diagnosis is crucial to avoid long-term sequelae by I Nerantzoulis, T Grigoriadis, L Michala – European Journal of Pediatrics, 2017 – Springer

Diagnosis and Treatment Procedures of by G Kline-Graber, B Graber – Handbook of Sex Therapy, 2012 – books.google.com

Dyspareunia in women: Breaking the silence is the first step toward treatment by TP Canavan, CD Heckman – Postgraduate Medicine, 2000 – Taylor & Francis