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Vaginal health in the United States: results from the Vaginal Health Insights, Views & Attitudes survey

Simon, James A. MD, CCD, NCMP, FACOG; Kokot-Kierepa, Marta MD, PhD; Goldstein, Jeffrey DO, NCMP; Nappi, Rossella E. MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e318287342d
Original Study

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.

From the 1George Washington University and Women’s Health and Research Consultants®, Washington, DC; 2Novo Nordisk Health Care AG, Zurich, Switzerland; 3Novo Nordisk Inc, Princeton, NJ; and 4Research Center for Reproductive Medicine, Gynecological Endocrinology and Menopause Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, IRCCS “S Matteo Foundation,” University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.

Received June 19, 2012; revised and accepted January 9, 2013.

Funding/support: The Vaginal Health: Insights, Views & Attitudes survey was commissioned by Novo Nordisk FemCare AG, Switzerland. Assistance with the writing of this manuscript was provided by Dan Booth and Andy Lockley of Bioscript Stirling Ltd, UK, and funded by Novo Nordisk FemCare AG.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: J.A.S. has served as consultant to(within the last year), is currently serving as consultant to, or is serving onthe advisory boards of Abbott Laboratories (Abbott Park, IL), Agile Therapeutics Inc (Princeton, NJ), Amgen Inc (Thousand Oaks, CA), AscendTherapeutics (Herndon, VA), BioSante (Lincolnshire, IL), Depomed Inc (Menlo Park, CA), Intimina by Lelo Inc (San Jose, CA), MD Therapeutics(Boca Raton, FL), Merck (Whitehouse Station, NJ), Novo Nordisk, Novogyne (East Hanover, NJ), Pfizer Inc (New York, NY), Shionogi Inc (Florham Park, NJ), Slate Pharmaceuticals Inc (Durham, NC),Sprout Pharmaceuticals (Raleigh, NC), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd(Jerusalem, Israel), Warner Chilcott (Rockaway, NJ), and WatsonPharmaceutical Inc (Corona, CA). He has received or is currentlyreceiving grant/research support from BioSante, EndoCeutics Inc(Quebec, Quebec), Novo Nordisk, Novogyne, Palatin Technologies (Cranbury, NJ), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, and Warner Chilcott. He has served or is currently serving on the speakers bureaus of Amgen Inc,Merck, Novartis (Basel, Switzerland), Novo Nordisk, Novogyne, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, and Warner Chilcott. J.A.S. is currently thechief medical officer for Sprout Pharmaceuticals. M.K.K. is an employee of Novo Nordisk Health Care AG (Zurich, Switzerland). J.G. wasanemployee of Novo Nordisk Inc (Princeton, NJ) at the time this manuscript was written. R.E.N. is a consultant to and researcher for NovoNordisk. During the past2years, R.E.N. has had other financial relationships (as lecturer, advisory board member, or consultant) with Bayer (Leverkusen, Germany), Ely Lilly (Indianapolis, IN), Merck, and Pfizer Inc.

Address correspondence to: James A. Simon, MD, CCD, NCMP, FACOG, Women’s Health and Research Consultants®, Suite 450, 1850 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036. E-mail: jsimon@JamesASimonMD.com

© 2013 by The North American Menopause Society.