Some British women are in denial when it comes to the menopause, according to results of a new survey. They are also failing to recognise the discreet early symptoms leading to a possible delay in seeking essential advice and treatment.
The survey reveals that a staggering one in 10 women are unaware that the menopause is a naturally occurring event affecting all women as they enter midlife. Of those, a surprising 70% thought that the menopause was genetic and almost 10% thought it occurred as a result of general ill health.
The survey also showed that there is confusion among women about the early symptoms of the menopause, particularly those that are discreet or sex related. Most women were able to recognise the commonly discussed early symptoms, such as hot flushes and changes to periods; however, only just half were able to identify intimate (vaginal) dryness as a key early indicator of the menopause. In addition, barely any of the women surveyed knew that painful sex, which can result from vaginal dryness, is also an early sign of the menopause.
Misinformation and fear can lead to a delay in seeking essential advice and treatment, potentially putting sex lives at risk. More than a quarter of women surveyed said they would not feel comfortable talking about the more intimate symptoms of the menopause - not even with their doctor or partner. Instead, they'd rather try to cope alone.
Dr Annie Evans, women's healthcare specialist, comments: "I have many women telling me that sex is not as comfortable as it once was because they are experiencing strange pain and discomfort. They are often confused and scared and have no idea that they are suffering from one of the first and most common symptoms of the menopause - vaginal dryness. It is time for women to understand and tackle their intimate menopausal symptoms to help ensure they lead an active and happy sex life."