Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Genitourinary syndrome of menopause: new terminology for vulvovaginal atrophy from the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health and The North American Menopause Society

Portman, David J. MD1; Gass, Margery L.S. MD, NCMP2on behalf of the Vulvovaginal Atrophy Terminology Consensus Conference Panel

doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000329
Special Features

Background In 2012, the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) and the Board of Trustees of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) acknowledged the need to review current terminology associated with genitourinary tract symptoms related to menopause.

Methods The 2 societies cosponsored a terminology consensus conference, which was held in May 2013.

Results and Conclusions Members of the consensus conference agreed that the term genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) is a medically more accurate, all-encompassing, and publicly acceptable term than vulvovaginal atrophy. GSM is defined as a collection of symptoms and signs associated with a decrease in estrogen and other sex steroids involving changes to the labia majora/minora, clitoris, vestibule/introitus, vagina, urethra and bladder. The syndrome may include but is not limited to genital symptoms of dryness, burning, and irritation; sexual symptoms of lack of lubrication, discomfort or pain, and impaired function; and urinary symptoms of urgency, dysuria and recurrent urinary tract infections. Women may present with some or all of the signs and symptoms, which must be bothersome and should not be better accounted for by another diagnosis. The term was presented and discussed at the annual meeting of each society. The respective Boards of NAMS and ISSWSH formally endorsed the new terminology—genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM)—in 2014.

From the 1Columbus Center for Women’s Health Research, Columbus, OH; and 2The North American Menopause Society, Mayfield Heights, OH.

Received July 9, 2014; revised and accepted July 9, 2014.

Vulvovaginal Atrophy Terminology Consensus Conference Panel:

David Portman, MD (Co-Chair); Margery Gass, MD, NCMP (Co-Chair); Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD (Conference Moderator); David Archer, MD, NCMP; Gloria Bachmann, MD; Lara Burrows, MD, MSc; Murray Freedman, MS, MD; Andrew Goldstein, MD; Irwin Goldstein, MD; Debra Heller; MD, Cheryl Iglesia, MD; Risa Kagan, MD, NCMP; Susan Kellogg Spadt, PhD, CRNP; Michael Krychman, MD; Lila Nachtigall, MD, NCMP; Rossella Nappi, MD, PhD; JoAnn Pinkerton, MD, NCMP; Jan Shifren, MD, NCMP; James Simon, MD, NCMP; Cynthia Stuenkel, MD, NCMP.

This article is being simultaneously published in the journals Climacteric, The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Maturitas, and Menopause, The Journal of The North American Menopause Society.

Funding/support: The Consensus Conference was sponsored by unrestricted educational grants from Apricus Biosciences; Bayer; Novo Nordisk; Shionogi; Tara Allmen, MD; Lil’ Drug Store; Warner Chilcott; and Women’s Initiative on Sexual Health (WISH).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: M.L.S.G. reports no disclosures. D.P. reports research grants from Abbvie, Activas, Amneal, Bayer, Endoceutics, Noven, Palatin, Pfizer, QuatRx, Sun Pharmaceuticals, Teva, TherapeuticsMD; consultant for Activas, Noven, NovoNordisk, Palatin, Pfizer, Shionogi, Sprout, TherapeuticsMD; and has received payment for speaker’s bureau for Noven, Pfizer and Shionogi.

Address correspondence to: David J. Portman, MD, Director, Columbus Center for Women’s Health Research, 99 North Brice Road, Suite 120, Columbus, OH 43213. E-mail:

© 2014 by The North American Menopause Society.