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Sex after menopause - survey

New survey shows women still don't understand why sex hurts after menopause

Women's EMPOWER survey confirms reluctance to discuss sex problems and seek treatment despite major educational efforts

The Women's EMPOWER survey, an internet-based survey of 1,858 US postmenopausal women with symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA). VVA, was specifically designed to assess women's awareness of VVA and their behaviors and attitudes associated with the treatment of symptoms. The findings came as little surprise to insiders in the medical industry, because they were consistent with six other past VVA surveys that also confirmed that postmenopausal women generally failed to recognize VVA and its chronic progressive course (including urinary problems) and were reluctant to discuss vaginal or sexual symptoms with their healthcare providers.

In the Women's EMPOWER survey, 81% of women were not aware that VVA is a medical condition. More than two-thirds of respondents were not familiar or only somewhat familiar with most of the prescription VVA products.

"The results of the Women's EMPOWER survey demonstrate and reinforce that, even with multimedia marketing and educational strategies in the years after other major VVA surveys, minimal progress has been made toward increasing women's awareness and understanding of VVA," says Michael Krychman, MD, of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine and a lead author of the Women's EMPOWER survey. "Women remain naive to the safe and effective treatment options that are currently available and are still, for the most part, underinformed and undertreated."

Prior surveys that support the Women's EMPOWER results include REVEAL (Revealing Vaginal Effects At mid-Life), WVM (Women's Voices in the Menopause), VIVA (Vaginal Health: Insight, Views, and Attitudes-US and International), CLOSER (CLarifying Vaginal Atrophy's Impact on SEx and Relationships-North America and EU), and REVIVE (REal Women's Views of Treatment Options for Menopausal Vaginal ChangEs-US and EU).

"The results of these surveys should send a clear message to healthcare providers that they need to initiate education and discussions with their postmenopausal patients so that they can better understand VVA symptoms as well as their options for treatment," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. 

Reference

www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/2016-docs/empower-survey-results-9-6-abbr.pdf accessed 9 October 2016

Content updated 9 October 2016

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