~ Survey results encourage healthcare professionals to initiate dialogue with North American postmenopausal women about vaginal atrophy, as fewer than half of women will discuss it ~
TORONTO, May 29, 2014 /CNW/ - According to new data published in Menopause, The Journal of The North American Menopause Society, 58 per cent of North American women who experience vaginal atrophy (VA) avoid intimacy due to its symptoms.1 VA is a chronic condition of menopause of which there is low awareness. The first survey determining the impact of VA on both partners, CLOSER (CLarifying vaginal atrophy's impact On SEx and Relationships), reveals that VA has an emotional and physical impact on the sexual health and intimate relationships of North American postmenopausal women and their partners.
Affecting approximately 45 per cent of postmenopausal women,1 VA is a common, treatable condition where the vaginal walls become thin, fragile and inflamed due to a reduction of estrogen.2 Vaginal symptoms include burning, itching, dryness, painful intercourse, urgency with urination, urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections.3
The CLOSER study surveyed 8,341 men and women in nine countries who were affected by VA, including 1,003 Canadian participants, and shows that couples are feeling the impact of VA on their relationships. A higher percentage of North American women and men report a worse-than-expected impact of menopause on their intimate relationships compared to European respondents.1 The North American results of the survey also reveal:
- Fifty-eight per cent of postmenopausal women avoid intimacy due to VA symptoms.1
- Sixty-four per cent of women experience loss of libido due to VA.1
- Seventy-eight per cent of men believe that VA cause their postmenopausal partners to avoid intimacy.1
- Most women and men indicate the pain associated with sex, as well as the concern that sex would be painful due to VA, lead to avoidance of intimate relations.1
- Approximately 30 per cent of women and men cease having sex altogether because of VA.1
Additionally, women report feelings of low confidence and unattractiveness as a result of experiencing VA symptoms.1 Despite its impact, most postmenopausal women surveyed accept that vaginal dryness is "a normal part of getting older."1
According to the CLOSER publication's co-author, Dr. Vivien Brown, Family Physician and NAMS Certified Menopause Expert, the CLOSER survey is the first study to determine the effects of VA on both partners and the results offer the first opportunity to examine the impact VA is having on intimacy and relationships.
"The survey shows us that VA is negatively affecting women, their relationships and their overall quality of life," said Dr. Brown. "The fact is many women are embarrassed to discuss these symptoms with their doctor or partner, while others may not associate their symptoms with vaginal atrophy. As healthcare providers, it is our role to start the vaginal health conversation with our patients, to ensure they are speaking with their partners and getting the proper treatment available."
The survey also shows that North American women are more likely to use lubricating gels and creams to treat VA, which may only provide temporary relief of some symptoms but do not treat the underlying condition.1 Local estrogen therapy (LET) treats the underlying condition.4 Of the women who use LET and for the men whose female partners use LET to treat vaginal discomfort, more than 40 per cent report that sex is more satisfying.1
"The most important point to take away from this survey is, local estrogen therapy is available and is an effective treatment for VA," said Dr. Brown. "Healthcare professionals can facilitate proper diagnosis and ensure an effective treatment plan is in place for their patients. Improving communication between doctor and patient can provide greater awareness of VA as an important issue, and help improve quality of life."
According to The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) guidelines, healthcare providers should routinely assess postmenopausal women for the symptoms and signs of VA. The SOGC guidelines also recommend the use of low-dose, local estrogen therapy to treat and relieve the symptoms of VA.
About the CLOSER Survey
The CLOSER research was an online survey conducted by StrategyOne (partnering with Ipsos MORI) between December 13, 2011 and February 7, 2012. The survey was completed by 4,167 postmenopausal women, aged between 55-65 who had ceased menstruating for at least 12 months and had experienced VA, and 4,174 male partners of postmenopausal women aged 55-65 who had ceased menstruating for at least 12 months and had experienced VA. The participants were located across nine countries including US, UK, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Italy and France.
About Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.
Novo Nordisk is a healthcare company and a world leader in diabetes care and biopharmaceuticals. Novo Nordisk manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products and services that make a significant difference to patients, the medical profession and society. Novo Nordisk's business is driven by the Triple Bottom Line: a commitment to economic success, environmental soundness, and social responsibility to employees and customers. For more information, visit www.novonordisk.ca.
1 Menopause. The Journal of The North American Menopause Society. Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy's Impact on Sex and Relationships (CLOSER) survey: emotional and physical impact of vaginal discomfort on North American postmenopausal women and their partners. 2013 Jun 3. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23736862.
2 Mayo Clinic: Vaginal Atrophy Definition. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-atrophy/DS00770. Last accessed February 2014.
3 Mayo Clinic: Symptoms. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vaginal-atrophy/basics/symptoms/con-20025768. Last accessed February 2014.
4 SOGC Clinical Practice Guidelines: The Detection and Management of Vaginal Atrophy. Available at: http://sogc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/145E-CPG-May2004.pdf. Last accessed February 2014.
SOURCE: Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.
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