Menopause: Most women have untreated vaginal problems

Vaginal dryness, burning, itching ... When menopause occurs, many women are affected by these symptoms. But although they degrade the quality of life considerably, they are still insufficiently treated.

For women, the onset of menopause often coincides with the onset of physical and intimate discomfort. Vaginal dryness, burning, itching, irritation ... The cluster of these symptoms has a name: vulvovaginal atrophy (AVV), to which doctors today prefer the genitourinary syndrome of menopause (Sgum), because considered less restrictive.

Women suffering from the genitourinary syndrome of the menopause are numerous: 98% of them would suffer. Yet, few people dare to consult for these symptoms while they significantly affect their quality of life. This is highlighted by new research published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

A degraded quality of life for menopausal women

The genitourinary syndrome of menopause (Sgum) is caused by a reduction in estrogen and androgen levels at the time of menopause. This leads to thinning of the vaginal walls, less elasticity and lower levels of lubrication. The most common symptoms include vaginal dryness, burning or itching, but also painful intercourse, urinary tract infections and urinary incontinence.

Uncomfortable or even painful, these symptoms affect the quality of life of menopausal women. Yet many people consider these symptoms to be a natural part of the aging process and do not report them to their doctor. According to some survey data collected, the genitourinary syndrome of menopause would have an impact on the quality of life comparable to other pathologies such as arthritis, asthma or irritable bowel syndrome.

Recent work has also shown the impact of these symptoms on the quality of life of postmenopausal women. Conducted with more than 2,000 women, they show that they do not usually dare to mention them during medical consultations. However, health professionals recognize the effect of these symptoms, which must, like those of other diseases, be treated.

"Although women and their doctors are often reluctant to talk about it, vaginal atrophy (which is part of the menopausal genitourinary syndrome) affects quality of life, self-esteem and intimacy of relationships", says Dr. JoAn Pinkerton, Executive Director of NAMS. "The good news is that there are over-the-counter treatments, such as vaginal lubricants and moisturizers, as well as local vaginal prescription treatments that can relieve vaginal dryness and painful intercourse and improve the quality of vaginal women's lives. "

Estradiol ovules against vaginal dryness

Among these treatments, estradiol eggs have been proven. Last May, another study published in the journal Menopause revealed that estradiol-based hormone replacement therapy (HRT) would relieve vulvovaginal problems and provide comfort and overall quality of life for women with vaginal dryness. These eggs, tested in a double-blind controlled study of 300 postmenopausal women, would be much more effective than conventional vaginal lubricants, say the researchers.

"Although vaginal lubricants and moisturizers can help with vaginal dryness, they may not be effective for women with more severe vaginal changes because of the loss of hormones at menopause," Dr. JoAnn explained. Pinkerton. "Vaginal therapies, including low-dose vaginal estrogens and intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone, relieve both vaginal dryness and painful intercourse.This study also showed an improvement in the quality of life and sexual function of the tablets. vaginal estradiol compared to a vaginal moisturizer. "

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