Objective: The aim of this study was to assess US postmenopausal women’s knowledge of and attitudes toward vaginal atrophy, using the Vaginal Health: Insights, Views & Attitudes survey.
Methods: Data were obtained from 3,520 postmenopausal women (aged 55-65 y) in the United States, Canada, and Europe using a structured Internet-based questionnaire. Results for US women (n = 500) are presented.
Results: Eighty percent of women had finished their menses more than 5 years previously, and 93% had experienced at least one menopausal symptom, although only 63% associated vaginal symptoms with menopause. Of those who had experienced “vaginal discomfort” (48%), vaginal dryness (85%) and pain during intercourse (52%) were most commonly reported. Eighty-two percent of women had experienced vaginal discomfort for 1 year or more. Most women (80%) considered vaginal discomfort to negatively impact their lives, particularly with regard to sexual intimacy (75%), ability to have a loving relationship (33%), and overall quality of life (25%); women also felt that it made them feel old (36%) and affected their self-esteem (26%). Of those with symptoms, 37% did not consult any healthcare professional, and 40% waited 1 year or more before doing so. Although 78% of those with vaginal discomfort used some form of treatment, this consisted mainly of lubricating gels and creams (65%); only 34% of women had used any form of hormone therapy.
Conclusions: Vaginal atrophy negatively impacts women’s lives, but women lack knowledge of the subject and are hesitant to consult healthcare professionals, who should proactively initiate discussions regarding appropriate treatment options.