Postmenopausal Australian women avoid intimacy as a result of a common condition.
A new study has shown that more than 70 per cent of postmenopausal Australian women have avoided intimacy with their partners as a result of a common condition caused by menopause.
The study, Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy’s Impact on Sex and Relationships (CLOSER), includes 1005 participants. Approximately half are postmenopausal women with symptoms, and the other half are male partners of postmenopausal women with symptoms. The study highlights the physical and emotional effect vaginal discomfort can have on Australian couples.
Vaginal discomfort, also known as vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women, can be diagnosed by a healthcare professional. It is a relatively common condition in both menopausal and postmenopausal women. It is caused by changes in the levels of female hormones in the body. It can also occur as a result of surgery to remove ovaries and after treatments for some medical conditions.
Symptoms of vaginal atrophy include vaginal dryness, itching and painful intercourse. If left untreated it can lead to serious long-term medical problems, including incontinence. Dr Jane Elliot, immediate-past president of the Australasian Menopause Society, explained that there is a lot of stigma surrounding vaginal atrophy. “Unfortunately, vaginal atrophy is considered a taboo subject, and even doctors can find it difficult to talk to their patients about it,” said Dr Elliott.
The CLOSER survey showed that 56 per cent of Australian postmenopausal women admit to having sex less often as a result of vaginal discomfort. Many women also reported that the condition affected their self-esteem and wellbeing. Almost half worried that their long-term vaginal discomfort would never go away and would, as a result, impact negatively on their relationship. 59 per cent revealed that the condition makes them feel ‘old’, and 58 per cent were upset that their body does not work the way it used to.
Partners of postmenopausal women said that they empathise with their partners, and two thirds revealed that they were comfortable discussing vaginal discomfort with their partner.
If you think you or your partner may be experiencing vaginal discomfort or dryness, it is important to seek advice from your healthcare professional.
For more information on menopause, post-menopause and vaginal dryness, visit the Australasian Menopause Society’s website.
Do you think this is a topic we should be talking about? Or is it best dealt with in private?
Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free
- Receive our daily enewsletter
- Enter competitions
- Comment on articles