New Survey Results from 3,000 Postmenopausal Women

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A new survey of more than 3,000 postmenopausal women reveals that women living with vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA) are either unaware of what causes this progressive and chronic condition, or are simply dissatisfied with the therapies available. The REVIVE survey (RE al Women 's VIews of Treatment Options for Menopausal Vulvar/Vaginal ChangEs) exposed multiple barriers to the treatment of VVA, including lack of knowledge, reluctance to discuss symptoms and disappointment with current therapies.

Some symptoms of VVA include painful intercourse, vaginal dryness and vaginal irritation. The REVIVE survey findings were published online in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Findings from this survey, the largest of its kind, have important implications as women are living longer and will spend up to one-third of their lives post menopause. In fact, an estimated 32 million postmenopausal women in the United States (US) experience symptoms of VVA.

"A women's sexual health post menopause is an important aspect of her overall, general health and is therefore too important to ignore. I would like to see more women talking to their healthcare professionals about this very real medical condition so they can find a treatment option for them," said Sheryl A. Kingsberg, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and REVIVE survey author. "In this survey, many women reported that VVA has an impact on their lives – particularly their intimate relationships. Despite this, almost half of the women admitted to not discussing symptoms with their healthcare professionals because they were embarrassed or felt the topic was too difficult to discuss. This signals a need for increased awareness and communication."

The REVIVE survey also revealed that despite the widespread impact of this condition, 62 percent of women in the survey said they are "not at all familiar" with VVA and only 24 percent attributed VVA symptoms to menopause. More importantly, women who have been diagnosed with VVA report being dissatisfied with current treatment options. These respondents were using over-the-counter (OTC) lubricants/moisturizers or prescription vaginal products. The vaginal route of administration was identified as a limitation by 39 percent of all participants. Those using prescription vaginal treatments reported a dislike of application procedures and disruption of sexual spontaneity.  

The development of educational programs that foster dialogue between postmenopausal women and their healthcare professionals (HCPs) may help raise awareness and improve management of this prevalent condition.