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Study Finds More Than One in Two Women Are Too Embarrassed to Discuss Vaginal Discomfort With Their Doctors

May 12, 2008

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 12 /PRNewswire/ — Despite living in a society that promotes images and icons of female empowerment like “Sex and the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw, popular sex therapist Dr. Sue Johannsen and even former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, more than one in two women are embarrassed and uncomfortable discussing pertinent issues of vaginal health. That’s the major finding from the Vagisil(R) Voice for Women survey, administered to U.S. women, ages 18 and older, by independent research firm Harris Interactive.

With almost 70 percent of women experiencing separate episodes of vaginal discomfort (i.e. vulvar itching, burning, unusual or excessive discharge) one to five times a year, there is no reason any woman should be living in silence. In recognition of National Women’s Health Week (May 11 – 17), Vagisil(R) is encouraging women to let go of their fears and seek help when dealing with an uncomfortable situation “down there.”

Although more than 85 percent of women agree that occasional vaginal discomfort is a natural part of every adult woman’s life, it does not stop the majority of them from suffering with strong emotions like frustration (80 percent), increased self-consciousness (68 percent) and even anger (29 percent), when experiencing vaginal discomfort. Additionally, more than three quarters of women (77 percent) do not feel sexy or feminine when experiencing vaginal discomfort and 68 percent even feel unclean.

“It’s understandable that women might feel unattractive or unclean when they have vaginal discomfort, but there’s absolutely no reason why they should,” says Leslie Reisner, PhD, a clinical psychologist specializing in emotional wellness. “Being empowered about their health and speaking with a physician, family member or even friends will allow women to understand they’re not alone, and what they’re going through is completely natural.”

Beyond the emotional toll, 50 percent of women say that vaginal discomfort has an impact on their daily lives; so much so that they change their behavior. Eighty-two percent of women avoid being intimate with a significant other and almost one-third (31 percent) change their plans, avoiding social interactions.

What’s a Woman to Do?

Experiencing vaginal discomfort is normal for every woman. It is a lack of knowledge about this topic that leads women to equate bad hygiene (50 percent) or promiscuity (9 percent) with vaginal discomfort. It’s important for women to realize there are many reasons for experiencing itching, burning, discharge and sometimes pain. Whether it is from excessive perspiration or constantly wearing too tight clothing, there are easy ways for women to take charge of their vaginal health.

   -- Pay Attention - Your body is smart. It will give you "warning signs" if      something needs attention. Look for changes that may serve as an      indicator to take a closer look.   -- Test Yourself - Women tend to automatically assume that they are      suffering from a yeast infection, and self-treat incorrectly. Try      keeping your medicine cabinet stocked with a pH test, like the      Vagisil(R) Screening Kit, to help determine the possible cause of any      symptoms such as unusual odor, discharge, itching or burning. An above      normal pH reading might indicate other types of infections that a      doctor would need to diagnose and treat.   -- Be Honest - Don't let embarrassment keep you from discussing any      symptoms of discomfort you're having with your doctor.  Remember, this      is what gynecologists deal with everyday.  Whatever you are      experiencing, your doctor has likely seen it before and can help you      find a simple solution.   -- Don't Suffer - There's no need to tolerate the discomfort.  There are      many over-the-counter products to treat your symptoms and provide      relief.     Break the Cycle  

The Vagisil(R) Voice for Women survey showed that, in relation to women 30 years old and up, younger women were more likely to feel self-conscious (78 percent v. 61 percent), nervous that it could be something more serious (72 percent v. 57 percent) or that they’ve done something wrong (33 percent v. 17 percent) when experiencing vaginal discomfort. The survey also revealed that 62 percent of women never thought about talking to their daughter(s) about vaginal discomfort. Vagisil(R) believes that National Women’s Health Week offers the perfect opportunity to have an open conversation about vaginal health, which might help prevent any misconceptions and negative feelings your daughter might be apt to experience.

“There is an underlying emotional toll to vaginal itch and discomfort that is often not addressed. This survey will be monumental to informing women that life does not have to stop, and they do not have to suffer in silence anymore,” says Jane Wadler, vice president of marketing for Vagisil.

Survey Methodology

An online survey of 500 adult women was conducted from March 18th thru April 11th by Harris Interactive. The survey targeted a sample of women ages 18 and over who have experienced vaginal discomfort which includes yeast infections or other vaginal infections, as well as vaginal itching, odor, irritation, discharge, pain or burning. The survey, conducted on behalf of Combe Inc., explored the emotional and physical impact of vaginal discomfort of women in the above demographic.

About the Vagisil(R) Screening Kit

The Vagisil(R) Screening Kit, which helps women identify the possible source of their vaginal discomfort, is widely available in the feminine hygiene section at food, drug and mass merchandise stores. It is the only rapid results at-home screening kit for vaginal infections.

About Combe Inc.

Combe Inc. is the maker of Vagisil(R) products, including Original Strength Vagisil(R) Creme, Maximum Strength Vagisil(R) Creme, Vagisil(R) Medicated Anti-Itch Wipes, Vagisil(R) Deodorant Powder and Gynecort(R) Anti-Itch Creme. These well-known products can be used to help with the symptoms associated with external vaginal discomfort, like itch, odor, wetness and burning. They are also ideal for external relief while a prescribed medicine works at treating an infection.

Combe Inc.

CONTACT: Deepa Khetan, x179, DKhetan@lippetaylor.com; Sharelyn Devonish,x128, SDevonish@lippetaylor.com, both of Lippe Taylor, +1-212-598-4400




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