Objective: This study aims to determine the emotional and physical impact of vaginal atrophy on North American postmenopausal women and their male partners.
Methods: A weighted sample of 1,000 married or cohabiting North American postmenopausal women aged 55 to 65 years with vaginal discomfort and 1,000 male partners of postmenopausal women aged 55 to 65 years who experienced vaginal discomfort participated in the Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy’s Impact on Sex and Relationships (CLOSER) online survey to determine the impact of vaginal discomfort and local estrogen therapy on intimacy, relationships, and women’s self-esteem.
Results: Vaginal discomfort caused most surveyed North American women to avoid intimacy (58%), experience loss of libido (64%), and experience pain associated with sex (64%). Most surveyed North American men also believed that vaginal discomfort caused their partners to avoid intimacy (78%), experience loss of libido (52%), and find sex painful (59%). Approximately 30% of North American women and men cited vaginal discomfort as the reason they ceased having sex altogether. North American women who used local estrogen therapy to treat their vaginal discomfort reported less painful sex (56%), more satisfying sex (41%), and improved sex life (29%). Most men reported looking forward to having sex (57%) because of their partner’s use of local estrogen therapy.
Conclusions: Local estrogen therapy ameliorates the negative impact of vaginal atrophy on the intimate relationships of North American postmenopausal women and their male partners. Additional education and awareness efforts about the symptoms of and available treatments for vaginal atrophy may be of further benefit to North American partners.