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

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 General News
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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 12 Despite living in a societythat promotes images and icons of female empowerment like "Sex and the City's"Carrie Bradshaw, popular sex therapist Dr. Sue Johannsen and even formerSupreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, more than one in two women areembarrassed 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 firmHarris Interactive.

With almost 70 percent of women experiencing separate episodes of vaginaldiscomfort (i.e. vulvar itching, burning, unusual or excessive discharge) oneto five times a year, there is no reason any woman should be living insilence. 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 whendealing with an uncomfortable situation "down there."

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

"It's understandable that women might feel unattractive or unclean whenthey have vaginal discomfort, but there's absolutely no reason why theyshould," says Leslie Reisner, PhD, a clinical psychologist specializing inemotional wellness. "Being empowered about their health and speaking with aphysician, family member or even friends will allow women to understandthey're not alone, and what they're going through is completely natural."

Beyond the emotional toll, 50 percent of women say that vaginal discomforthas an impact on their daily lives; so much so that they change theirbehavior. Eighty-two percent of women avoid being intimate with a significantother and almost one-third (31 percent) change their plans, avoiding socialinteractions.

What's a Woman to Do?

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

Break the Cycle

The Vagisil(R) Voice for Women survey showed that, in relation to women 30years old and up, younger women were more likely to feel self-conscious (78percent v. 61 percent), nervous that it could be something more serious (72percent v. 57 percent) or that they've done something wrong (33 percent v. 17percent) when experiencing vaginal discomfort. The survey also revealed that62 percent of women never thought about talking to their daughter(s) aboutvaginal discomfort. Vagisil(R) believes that National Women's Health Weekoffers the perfect opportunity to have an open conversation about vaginalhealth, which might help prevent any misconceptions and negative feelings yourdaughter might be apt to experience.

"There is an underlying emotional toll to vaginal itch and discomfort thatis often not addressed. This survey will be monumental to informing womenthat life does not have to stop, and they do not have to suffer in silenceanymore," says Jane Wadler, vice president of marketing for Vagisil.

Survey Methodology

An online survey of 500 adult women was conducted from March 18th thruApril 11th by Harris Interactive. The survey targete

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