Vaginal health in menopausal women rarely discussed in visits with their doctor

Nearly half of the women in the study reported feeling itchiness or vaginal dryness, but only 39 per cent dared to speak about it with their doctor. — champja/Istock.com pic via AFP
Nearly half of the women in the study reported feeling itchiness or vaginal dryness, but only 39 per cent dared to speak about it with their doctor. — champja/Istock.com pic via AFP

CHICAGO, Sept 25 — A new study to be presented at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society held September 25 to 29 in Chicago shows that menopausal women discuss their vaginal health very rarely during their medical appointments. Medical personnel themselves seem even less at ease with the subject.

The research concerned 1,500 menopausal women. Among them, nearly half (45 per cent) reported experiencing vaginal itching, dryness, or abnormal odor. These symptoms are typical of the genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). However, only 39 per cent dared to speak to their doctor about it.

The hesitation in broaching the subject is even more striking among medical personnel. The researchers found that the patient was more likely to broach the subject than the doctor (59 per cent compared to 22 per cent). A small number of the women surveyed (16 per cent) reported that discussions of that type were initiated by both sides.

Among the women who discussed the subject with their doctor, 83 per cent were satisfied or very satisfied with the results of those discussions, which led to useful recommendations. On the other hand, 18 per cent did not have that chance and regretted it.

“Since the discussions that did occur led to helpful interventions, this suggests a role for greater clinician-initiated screening for genitourinary syndrome of menopause,” said Dr Amanda Clark, lead author of the study and an affiliate investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Centre for Health Research in Portland, Oregon.

“With so many options now available, such as over-the-counter lubricants and moisturisers as well as low-dose vaginal hormonal products containing estrogen or DHEA, there is no reason for women to continue to suffer in silence,” added Dr Stephanie Faubion, medical director of The North American Menopause Society. — AFP-Relaxnews

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