Re posted from Red Hot Mamas “Menopause Minute”
Dear Red Hot Mamas,
As we all can attest, our bodies change as we get older. Although we may not want to admit it, these changes can have a significant impact on our vaginal and sexual health. Sometimes it can be difficult to talk about the changes that may be associated with menopause, as they can be embarrassing.
However, it is important to remember that these changes are natural. During menopause, declines in estrogen can result in a variety of physical symptoms, including those affecting our vaginal and sexual health, such as dryness, itching and burning in and around the vagina, and pain during sexual activity.
The first step to understanding the changes you may be experiencing is to start a conversation – open up and discuss your symptoms with your health care professional.
In hopes of breaking down conversation barriers and encouraging women to discuss their vaginal and sexual health, we are pleased to announce that Red Hot Mamas is working with Pfizer Inc to help generate conversation around this “taboo” topic.
If you are experiencing vaginal or sexual symptoms that may be associated with menopause, know that you are not alone. In fact, 2 market research surveys were developed and executed by several leading women’s and sexual health experts in collaboration with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (now Pfizer Inc). These market research surveys were conducted to gain a more thorough understanding of the vaginal and sexual health of postmenopausal Boomer women. The REVEAL (REvealing Vaginal Effects At mid-Life) Surveys assessed responses from 1006 postmenopausal women aged 45 to 65 and 602 health care professionals who treat postmenopausal women.
Interestingly, 87% of postmenopausal women who participated in REVEAL reported that their sexual health is important to them. One out of 4 postmenopausal women (25%) who participated in the REVEAL survey reported experiencing painful sex (dyspareunia) at least sometimes. However, based on the survey results, roughly half of postmenopausal women surveyed (47%) strongly or somewhat agreed that it is still taboo in society to acknowledge that they are experiencing symptoms of menopause, such as vulvar and vaginal dryness or painful intercourse.
Of the postmenopausal women surveyed who reported having pain during sex, less than half of these women (44%) have initiated a conversation about this condition with a health care professional. Among those who had not spoken to their health care professional, the number one reason was embarrassment (39%), followed by the belief that there was nothing that can be done medically (26%).
“The REVEAL Surveys indicate there is a prevailing misconception that nothing can be done medically to alleviate the vulvar and vaginal atrophy that can make sexual intercourse painful for some postmenopausal women,” said Dr. Michael L. Krychman, Medical Director of Sexual Medicine at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, Newport Beach, CA. “Women should feel comfortable approaching their health care professional to discuss their concerns and to explore potential treatment options.”
Among the subset of postmenopausal women who reported experiencing pain during sex at least sometimes, the REVEAL Survey also brought to light other findings, such as:
- The majority of these women (56%) admitted being less sexually active as a result of painful sexual intercourse.
- Despite the pain, approximately 3 out of 4 of these women (72%) engage in sexual intercourse at least once a month, and about one third (33%) engage in sex at least once weekly.
- Eight out of 10 of these women (80%) agreed (agreed = strongly agree + somewhat agree) that they have learned to live with the vulvar and vaginal symptoms of menopause, such as dryness, as a normal part of getting older.
Results from the REVEAL Surveys suggest that additional communication and education about vaginal and sexual health, postmenopause, is needed. I encourage all Red Hot Mamas out there to think about what you may be experiencing, learn more, and to talk with your doctor or other health care professional. I encourage you to visit REVEALSurvey.com to learn more about postmenopausal vaginal and sexual health changes, and to start a conversation with your health care professional.
Founder & President
Red Hot Mamas North America, Inc.