Some diagnostic features of the genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) and bacterial vaginosis (BV) overlap, such as low levels of vaginal Lactobacillus and pH > 5. We sought to determine clinicians’ diagnostic and treatment practices for postmenopausal women presenting with BV and GSM scenarios and how commercial molecular screening tests are utilized.
Anonymous surveys were sent to practicing women's health clinicians to evaluate assessment and treatment strategies for postmenopausal women presenting with BV and GSM scenarios.
When given a scenario of a postmenopausal woman with symptoms overtly positive for BV, a majority of providers (73%) would conduct a wet mount, though only 35% would evaluate full Amsel's criteria. A majority (89%) recommended treatment with antibiotics, 28.2% recommended vaginal estrogen in addition to antibiotics, and 11.8% recommended vaginal estrogen alone. Of providers who would use a molecular swab, 30% would wait for results before treating the patient's symptoms. When given a scenario of a postmenopausal woman presenting with GSM, a majority (80%) recommended vaginal estrogen, and only 4.6% recommended antibiotics. Few (16%) responders would evaluate with a molecular swab, half of whom would wait for results before prescribing treatment. Clinicians in practice for less than 10 years were more likely to rely on molecular swabs than those who had been practicing longer (P < 0.0003).
Methods used to evaluate postmenopausal women with vaginal symptoms vary. Future studies of postmenopausal women that differentiate diagnostic criteria between BV and GSM, and validate commercial molecular testing for BV in women over age 50 are needed.