Author(s): Mario Jose Rodriguez1
The vaginal wall like the endometrium of the uterus shows variations in wall thickness in response to oestrogen levels.1,2 Postmenopausal decline in vaginal thickness has been documented in myriad studies.2 Limited published work exists, however, that documents ultrasound assessment of vault thickness.3,4 The aim of the study is to evaluate and compare the vaginal mucosal and wall thickness in postmenarcheal adolescents, newly wed and postmenopausal female subjects by transabdominal sonography.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Ultrasound findings of 188 female subjects with regard to vaginal wall and mucosal thickness (VWT and VMT, respectively), who underwent abdominal ultrasonography for trivial abdominal symptoms or as a routine/baseline study over a three month period were analysed.
A total of 188 female subjects were examined. 48 of these were postmenarcheal adolescents in the 12-15 years age group, 66 were recently wedded young adult subjects in the 20-25 years age group and 74 were postmenopausal females in the 50-75 years age group. Statistically significant differences in VWT and VMT were noted between the three groups. VMT and VVT for postmenarcheal adolescents were 0.8-1.5 mm and 6.2-8.1 mm, respectively. VMT and VVT for recently wedded female subjects were 0.9-2.5 mm and 7.8-21.4 mm, respectively. VMT and VVT for postmenopausal subjects were 0.4-0.8 mm and 4.4-6.8 mm, respectively.
The study suggests that mucosal and wall thickness are maximal in early adult life, minimal in the postmenopausal period and intermediate in early adolescence. A variety of factors are probably responsible, viz. the role of oestrogens and other hormones, vaginal blood flow and mucosal congestion. The variations between wall thickness in young newly-married females and the other two groups suggests that sexual activity has a aetiologic role in the increase in wall and mucosal thickness in this age group.