ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- While hot flashes and night sweats are universally recognized as the most common symptoms associated with menopause, another common symptom can do long-term damage to a woman's physical and emotional well-being. This "silent" symptom known as vaginal discomfort can impact one's quality of life, including couples' relationships. Vaginal discomfort may be caused by vaginal atrophy (VA), a chronic condition due to a decline in estrogen, and symptoms include vaginal dryness, burning and itching, and painful intercourse or urination. While women are likely to talk about the more common symptoms of menopause, they are reluctant to talk about vaginal discomfort, making it a "taboo" subject and therefore many women suffer in silence unnecessarily.
A recent survey sponsored by Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company, found that more than half of post-menopausal women avoided being intimate with their partners and that they had lost their libido as a result of vaginal atrophy-related symptoms. These findings are from a sub-analysis of The Partners' Survey, which is part of a larger global online survey entitled the CLOSER Research (CLarifying Vaginal Atrophy's Impact On SEx and Relationships), that looked at 8,341 post-menopausal women with vaginal discomfort and their partners from nine different countries. The sub-analysis evaluated the emotional and physical impact of vaginal discomfort on 1,010 U.S. respondents, and results were announced today at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) in Orlando, Fla.
"In my experience treating patients, most women are not comfortable talking about vaginal symptoms, especially related to pain and discomfort. The word 'vagina' is somewhat taboo so it's no wonder no one talks about vaginal atrophy," said James A. Simon, M.D., C.C.D., N.C.M.P., F.A.C.O.G., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., principal author, and a prominent menopause expert. "This data will be eye-opening for patients, their partners and healthcare professionals and will hopefully spark necessary dialogue."
According to the data, 35 percent of women reported they do not feel sexually attractive anymore and 31 percent had lost confidence in themselves as a sexual partner. Women were also likely to experience a sense of isolation in the relationship, with 24 percent reporting that they felt emotionally distant from their partners.
The survey also showed women are not the only ones affected: 65 percent of men worried that sex would be painful for his partner, and almost a third of both men and women reported that they have stopped having sex with their partners altogether because of the discomfort.
Compared with other countries surveyed, U.S. women experienced higher rates of vaginal atrophy-related consequences on sexual health and interpersonal relationships. They were also the most likely, at 77 percent, to use lubricating gels and creams, and the least likely to use hormone therapy, despite the advantages shown in the survey among those who sought treatment. Of U.S. women who had tried local estrogen therapy (LET), 56 percent of women and 57 percent of their partners reported that sex was less painful, and almost 40 percent reported that sex was more satisfying for themselves and their partners. Since the use of LET, 34 percent of women and 54 percent of men look forward to having sex after using local estrogen therapy.
Women who are experiencing vaginal discomfort can visit myvaginalsymptoms.com to assess their symptoms and get tips on how to speak with their physicians.
About the Partners' Survey and CLOSER Research
The Partners' Survey is part of a larger global online survey titled the CLOSER Research (CLarifying Vaginal Atrophy's Impact On SEx and Relationships). The research was sponsored by Novo Nordisk and conducted by StrategyOne (partnering with Ipsos MORI) between December 13, 2011, and February 7, 2012. The CLOSER Research survey was completed by 4,167 post-menopausal women, aged between 55-65 who had ceased menstruating for at least 12 months and have experienced vaginal atrophy and 4,174 male partners of post-menopausal women aged 55-65 who had ceased menstruating for at least 12 months and have experienced vaginal atrophy. The participants were located across nine countries: United States, U.K., Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Italy and France.
The Partners' Survey findings presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the North American Menopause Society are a sub-analysis of the U.S. population, which included 501 women who had ceased menstruating for at least 12 months and have experienced vaginal atrophy, and 509 same-aged male partners of women with vaginal atrophy.
The objectives of this research were to better understand the impact that vaginal atrophy has on intimacy and relationships, both physically and emotionally, and to find out how to encourage positive conversations among men and women about this topic. The research also looked at the positive impact that local estrogen therapy can have on the sufferer's relationship.
About Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal atrophy, a chronic condition, is the thinning and inflammation of the vaginal wall which occurs when there is a reduction in levels of estrogens. Estrogens, produced by the ovaries, are responsible for maintaining the structure and function of the vaginal wall, elasticity of the tissues around the vagina and production of vaginal fluid. If left untreated, vaginal atrophy can have long-term effects in some women.
About Novo Nordisk
Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with 89 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. The company also has leading positions within hemophilia care, growth hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy. For more information, visit novonordisk-us.com.
SOURCE Novo Nordisk