Now is the time for a renewed focus on personal health and wellness. If you have been putting the health of your family first, take some time to educate yourself and make your own health a priority, as well.
If you are a menopausal woman, you may be experiencing physical changes that you may not be sure are common or related to menopause. For some women, menopause is an easy transition into the next phase of their lives. However, for women experiencing moderate to severe symptoms, menopause can affect day-to-day activities. During menopause, declines in estrogen can result in a variety of symptoms, which may include hot flashes, night sweats, vulvar and vaginal atrophy (when the vaginal walls become thinner and less lubricated) and sleep disturbances leading to fatigue and irritability. Additionally, vaginal changes that may result from menopause – such as vaginal dryness, itching, and burning in and around the vagina – may make sexual intercourse difficult or painful for some women. While not uncommon, some women may not be comfortable talking about these vaginal or sexual symptoms that may be associated with menopause.
In fact, in a survey of 1,006 postmenopausal women called REVEAL (REvealing Vaginal Effects At mid-Life), 25 percent of the women surveyed reported experiencing dyspareunia, or painful sexual intercourse, at least sometimes, yet only 44 percent of these women had initiated a conversation with their health care professional about this condition. In a related survey of 602 health care professionals, 95 percent somewhat or strongly agreed that they considered treating a woman’s vulvar and vaginal health important to her overall sexual physical health, and 87 percent reported that detailed discussion with a patient regarding her reported symptoms was very important in guiding their diagnosis of dyspareunia.
“Menopausal women should not be embarrassed or afraid to discuss their vaginal and sexual health with their health care professional,” says Karen Giblin, president of the Red Hot Mamas, the nation’s largest menopause education and support program. “If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms, such as uncomfortable vaginal pain either during routine daily activities or pain with intercourse, don’t ignore these symptoms. Talk with your clinician – a doctor, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant or nurse – about management options to determine what you can do and find out what treatment approach that is best for you.”
Make it your resolution to speak with your health care professional about your menopausal health. Menopausal symptoms, such as painful intercourse, are not something you have to live with. To learn more about your vaginal and sexual health and to obtain tips on speaking with your health care professional, visit www.REVEALSurvey.com.