A new article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings reviews options for women going through genitourinary syndrome of menopause - an encompassing term for vaginal dryness, itching, dyspareunia and urinary tract infections brought on by low estrogen levels after menopause.
"It's a common problem that affects at least 50 percent of postmenopausal women; yet, only about 7 percent are receiving treatment," says Stephanie Faubion, M.D., director, Mayo Clinic Office of Women's Health. "Aside from the physical discomfort, genitourinary syndrome of menopause can put a strain on relationships, and women need to know that this is common and nothing to be embarrassed by. Their health care provider can help."
Treatments for the symptoms of genitourinary syndrome of menopause include low-dose vaginal estrogen therapy, laser therapy, moisturizers and lubricants. Because this condition can lead to sexual health problems, pelvic floor physical therapy and sex therapy may be helpful for women experiencing this.
Despite these treatments, the lack of awareness of the frequency of genitourinary syndrome of menopause makes reaching patients with this condition difficult. The study discusses a survey of over 1,800 women in the U.S. that found most women would welcome information from their health care provider but were embarrassed or concerned that their symptoms were not appropriate to discuss with their provider.
"When health care providers initiate the conversation and ask the questions to identify genitourinary syndrome of menopause, that is a step toward helping women identify the problem and understand that it can be treated," says Dr. Faubion.