Is there Sexual Intimacy After Menopause? Canadian Women Reveal Greater Need for Physician-Women Dialogue Regarding Vaginal Health
~ 82 per cent of Canadian women agree that vaginal atrophy would have a
negative impact on their life, including sexual intimacy, yet only
seven per cent are aware of the condition ~
TORONTO, June 26, 2012 /CNW/ – According to new data from the VIVA
(Vaginal Health: Insights, Views & Attitudes) survey presented at the
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) Annual
Clinical Meeting, seventy-two per cent of Canadian women consider
sexual intimacy as being the area of their life most likely to be
affected by the symptoms of a chronic condition of menopause called
vaginal atrophy or VA.(1) Although approximately half of postmenopausal Canadian women experience
symptoms of VA,(2) the VIVA survey shows that many shy away from initiating discussions
around vaginal health with their doctor, and often doctors are not
proactively discussing it.(3)
Vaginal atrophy is a common, treatable condition where the vaginal walls
become thin, fragile and inflamed due to a reduction of estrogen.(4) Symptoms include: burning, itching, dryness, irritation and painful
intercourse.(5) These symptoms get worse over time – and yet no one is talking.
“Knowledge of vaginal atrophy is low in Canada and the symptoms can
affect a woman’s overall health, sexual intimacy, relationships and
self-confidence,” said Dr. Rossella Nappi, co-author of the VIVA Survey
and Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University
of Pavia in Italy. “We are calling on healthcare professionals to
routinely raise the topic of vaginal health with their postmenopausal
patients and to discuss appropriate treatment options to improve
quality of life.”
In fact, guidelines from the SOGC, a leading authority on women’s health
issues, state that doctors should routinely assess their patients for
signs and symptoms of VA and discuss available treatment options.(6)
A Chronic Condition Kept Under the Covers
According to the VIVA findings few women are seeking medical assistance,
and many are hesitant to talk to their doctor about vaginal health,
either due to embarrassment, cultural values, or acceptance of such
symptoms as an inevitable consequence of aging. One-third (32 per
cent) of Canadian respondents who have suffered from VA waited more
than a year before seeing a healthcare professional(1A) and over half (56 per cent) experienced symptoms for three years or
“Vaginal atrophy is very common and can affect a woman’s quality of
life, but unfortunately the VIVA results show women expressed that
their healthcare provider had not raised the subject with them,” said
Dr. Sheldon M. Frank, MD, medical director, Temple Green Clinic for
menopausal women, Kitchener, Ontario, and certified NAMS practitioner.
“Canadian healthcare providers have a key role to play in sparking the
discussion, just as much as women. These discussions are imperative to
help women understand VA so they can find a treatment option, such as
low dose local estrogen therapy, to help their condition, rather than
live with the symptoms and suffer in silence.”
Joan Boone’s Story – No More Suffering in Silence
Joan Boone, a Canadian Boomer who started experiencing vaginal symptoms
at an early age, is one of many women who was embarrassed to speak to a
doctor. Joan has boldly emerged from the shadows to shed light on VA,
a condition which had once prevented her from enjoying life.
“For a long time I experienced symptoms of VA which made me very
uncomfortable and prevented me from doing the things I love like
swimming and cycling,” said Joan. “Symptoms affected my relationships,
especially with my husband, and my life was coming to a halt. I finally
spoke to my doctor and that’s the best decision I could have made.
After receiving treatment, I felt renewed. I was in a better mood, my
relationship with my husband was healthier and it improved my overall
quality of life.”
VA – The “Hush-Hush” Condition of Menopause According to VIVA Results:
The international VIVA (Vaginal Health: Insights, Views & Attitudes)
survey was commissioned by Novo Nordisk and conducted by Strategy One
and obtained information from 3,520 female respondents aged 55-65 years
old from Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, the United
States of America and included 500 Canadians. The survey assessed
their understanding of VA and its overall impact. Key Canadian findings include:
-- Only seven per cent could accurately name VA as the condition that included symptoms of vaginal dryness, pain during sex, itching, burning and soreness of the vagina1C -- Less than half of survey respondents considered that enough information was available about the symptoms and treatment of vaginal discomfort1D -- Eight in ten (82 per cent)agreed VA would have a negative impact on various aspects of their life1E -- The majority of women surveyed agree that VA could limit their comfort of doing what they want to do, when they want to do it1F -- Almost three-quarters of women agree that VA can have negative consequences on a woman's sex life, followed by their ability to have a loving relationship (39 per cent)1G -- Over halfof Canadian women surveyed lack knowledge about local estrogen therapy7 -- Of the Canadian women surveyed, 43 per cent would consider local estrogen therapy, if it would keep their hormone levels normal1H
For more information about vaginal atrophy, visit TheBigOw.ca. It can’t hurt!
About Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.
Novo Nordisk is a healthcare company and a world leader in diabetes care
and biopharmaceuticals. Novo Nordisk manufactures and markets
pharmaceutical products and services that make a significant difference
to patients, the medical profession and society. Novo Nordisk’s
business is driven by the Triple Bottom Line: a commitment to economic
success, environmental soundness, and social responsibility to
employees and customers. For more information, visit www.novonordisk.ca.
(1) Novo Nordisk Canada Topline Report: Vaginal Health: Insights, Views and
Attitudes. September 2010
(2) Abstracts of Papers, Posters and Videos to be presented at the SOGC
68th Annual Clinical Meeting. Available at: http://www.sogc.org/cmes/acm2012/english/documents/2012JOGCabstractSup.pdf. Last accessed June 2012.
(3) Novo Nordisk Canada Topline Report: Vaginal Health: Insights, Views and
Attitudes. September 2010
(4) Mayo Clinic: Vaginal Atrophy Definition. Available at: http://mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-atrophy/DS00770. Last accessed March 2012.
(5) The Big Ow- Symptoms. Available at: http://www.thebigow.ca/WhatIsTheBigOw/WhatItFeelsLike.aspx Last accessed February 2012
(6) SOGC guidelines R. E. Nappi and M. Kokot-Kierepa: Vaginal Health:
Insights, Views & Attitudes (VIVA) – results from an international
(7) R. E. Nappi and M. Kokot-Kierepa: Vaginal Health: Insights, Views &
Attitudes (VIVA) – results from an international survey.
SOURCE Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.