New Survey Shows Lesser-Known Symptoms of Menopause Can Impact Sexual Health
Menopause is widely associated with hot flashes and night sweats, but there are also other common, lesser-known symptoms. For example, vaginal dryness and painful intercourse due to menopause can have a considerable negative impact on a woman’s sexual health. Yet a new online survey found that many women do not discuss vaginal dryness or painful intercourse with their health care professional, do not know about available treatment options and are often not even aware that vaginal dryness and painful intercourse are associated with menopause.
Although these symptoms are common, according to a new online survey* of 1,043 postmenopausal women, they are not openly discussed. In fact, almost half of the women surveyed who reported painful intercourse (48 percent) and roughly two out of five (38 percent) who reported vaginal dryness believe it is still taboo in society to acknowledge experiencing symptoms of menopause, such as vaginal dryness or painful intercourse.
Vaginal Dryness and Painful Intercourse Impact Sexual Health
Among the women surveyed who reported experiencing menopausal symptoms, the majority indicated that vaginal dryness (80 percent) or painful intercourse (92 percent) negatively impacted their frequency of intercourse since menopause. These women also reported that they avoid intimate situations because of their symptoms.
Furthermore, of the postmenopausal women surveyed who are in a committed relationship, 54 percent who reported vaginal dryness and 70 percent who reported painful intercourse indicated that their condition puts anywhere from some strain to a tremendous amount of strain on their sexual relationship with their partner.
“Vaginal dryness and painful intercourse are common symptoms of menopause, but left untreated, these symptoms can continue causing pain and discomfort, which may negatively impact a woman’s life,” noted Dr. Michael Krychman, medical director of sexual medicine at Hoag Hospital; executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine in Newport Beach, California; and consultant for the survey. “The good news is, both vaginal dryness and painful intercourse due to menopause are treatable, so any woman struggling with one of these conditions should speak with her health care professional to determine a treatment regimen that is right for her.”
According to the survey, many women are not aware of the treatment options available for vaginal dryness and painful intercourse, and believe that nothing can be done medically to help. Additionally, of the women surveyed, the majority (80 percent) believe that although there are medicines available for men’s physical sexual problems like Viagra® , Cialis® and Levitra® , the same do not exist for women’s physical sexual problems.
Treatments for the vaginal symptoms of menopause are not one-size-fits-all. Depending on a woman’s individual treatment goals and risk profile, a health care professional may recommend over-the-counter vaginal lubricants and moisturizers or prescription vaginal estrogen therapy.
* The HealthyWomen survey was conducted online by HealthyWomen and Harris Interactive among 1,043 postmenopausal women 40+ years of age, with grant support from Pfizer Inc.