A new study has revealed that nearly 70 pct of postmenopausal women feel embarrassed to talk about vaginal dryness and pain, and hesitate to seek medical help.
The survey showed that nearly 39 pct of post-menopausal women experience these symptoms of vaginal atrophy and 40 percent agree that it interferes with their sex life.
Local symptoms such as painful intercourse, vaginal dryness, itching, burning, and soreness are caused, like other menopausal symptoms, by the gradual decline of oestrogen production in ovaries.
Seven out of ten said they were reluctant to talk about the problem with their physician.
As result a quarter would wait for over a year before finally contacting their physician. The survey showed only 30 percent of women considered talking to a gynaecologist, and only 29 percent considered talking to a GP.
"The results of this survey really highlight my experiences of treating menopausal women and in my practice in Italy it is even worse. I see many women who have vaginal dryness and pain post-menopause, and the most alarming aspect is that they wait for so long, with only 17 percent of surveyed women taking a treatment to counteract these symptoms." said Dr. Rossella Nappi, Director of the Gynecological Endocrinology and Menopause Unit at the Maugeri Foundation, University of Pavia, Italy.
"In addition to the physical pain that affects the women, there is an emotional impact on them and their partner as well.
"There is definitely a taboo factor involved as the survey shows that, of those who have experienced vaginal dryness and pain, 47 percent would rather speak to a female physician than a male physician about the problem," she added.
The survey also showed that 67 percent of those who have had or are currently taking treatment experience improvements, including an improved quality of life, a return to normal sexual activity, and an improvement in the relationship with their partner.
"Vaginal dryness and pain don't need to be considered as a natural part of growing older and effective treatment options, such as vaginal oestrogen tablets, pessaries, creams or rings are available and can easily be prescribed by their healthcare professional." said Professor Henry Burger, Consultant Endocrinologist, Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health, Melbourne, Australia.
The study was presented at the European Congress on Menopause in London.