Post-menopausal women don't seek help for atrophy symptoms
Data published suggests that post-menopausal women in Britain are less likely to access treatment for vaginal atrophy, a common condition.
This means they are experiencing less sex and less satisfying sex than their European and North American counterparts, the study published in Menopause International suggests.
Despite over 1.5 million women potentially experiencing this problem in the UK, women in the study were 50% less likely to receive local oestrogen treatment compared to women from other countries.
Fear of painful sex was one of the main reasons women avoided intimacy (63%) with almost one third of women and their partners (30%, 29%) saying vaginal discomfort had caused a “big problem” for their sex lives.
"Given the obvious impact of vaginal atrophy on women in the UK, and their partners, it is very sad to learn that we are lagging behind other Western countries in terms of ensuring appropriate access to treatment," said Dr Heather Currie, co-author of the study and Associate Specialist Gynaecologist at the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary and Honorary Secretary of the British Menopause Society.
She added: "It is our hope that the CLOSER study will encourage our fellow medical professionals, and women themselves, to routinely raise the topic of post-menopausal vaginal health, thereby facilitating appropriate diagnosis and treatment."
Vaginal atrophy is a chronic condition caused by a drop in oestrogen levels, with symptoms including vaginal dryness, itching and painful intercourse.
The condition can have a significant emotional impact, as well as on quality of life, and can lead to serious long-term urogenital problems such as incontinence if left untreated.
Local oestrogen, the preferred treatment for vaginal atrophy according to The British Menopause Society, is applied directly to the vagina while, in systemic hormone therapy, the hormones travel around the entire body.
As vaginal atrophy is a chronic condition, treatment needs to be continued to maintain the benefits.
The survey was completed by 4,100 post-menopausal women, aged between 55-65 who had ceased menstruating for at least 12 months and have experienced vaginal atrophy, and 4,100 male partners of post-menopausal women aged 55-65 who have ceased menstruating for at least 12 months and have experienced vaginal atrophy.
The participants were located across nine countries: US, UK, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Italy and France.