It’s bad enough women have to suffer the ignominy of menopause, mostly in silence, but when that affects the love in your life, sex and your quality of life, this can cast a very dark shadow over your future expectations for enjoying life to the full.
Recently I was in Madrid for the EMAS Convention (European Menopause and Andropause Society), attended by medical practitioners from all over Europe. Guest speakers have flown in from around the world to update everyone on the up to date situation on menopause consisting of Hot News, updates on statistics, even advice to medical practitioners on how to speak to patients, particularly when it comes to sexual health.
I was asked to speak later on how menopause seriously affected my own life and almost destroyed my marriage and I’m here to appeal to doctors to ensure they help women understand the short and long term effects of the charmingly phrased, vaginal atrophy because it ain’t goin’ away!
Prof Rossella Nappi – Why do Women Suffer in Silence?
I was privileged to hear Professor Rossella Nappi speak on this subject , yesterday, and it’s vital for me that all of you women out there understand this stuff. Professor Nappi works tirelessly to inform women and the medical fraternity, so I’m doing my bit to extend that to all of you guys who find it too embarrassing to deal with. So here goes…
¾ of Women say Sex is important in their Lives
These were the results of a survey of menopausal women and interestingly, UK women are less likely to report this or seek help. Over time, this vaginal condition, resulting from oestrogen deficiency, can get so bad it becomes difficult to treat. I didn’t know that.
It’s Criminal! 63% of Women don’t receive treatment
Between the ages of 45 – 65 , only 39% of women report some kind of problem ‘down there’. Worse than this, 63% of these women don’t receive any treatment for the condition. This is scandalous, in my view, criminal, even and shows the total lack of responsibility by doctors to get up-to-speed on menopause. Menopause may not kill you but, by heaven, it can cause really serious distress, depression and relationship problems and we’re supposed to just ‘get on with it’ because it’s ‘a natural part of ageing’. Come on, please – we want a better quality of life, too!!
Barriers – Stigma, Embarrassment and it won’t go away!
It takes women, on average, three years to take herself to see her doctor. This is because barriers exist preventing her from taking action sooner. There is the stigma that still exists around menopause, for one; then there’s the embarrassment of either discussing the condition with partners or the doctor. The final barrier is that she thinks it will go away of its own accord. It won’t! You’ve got this for life, my friend. Vaginal Atrophy is, yes, a part of ageing that starts unraveling at menopause due to oestrogen deficiency.
It’s only when women feel they can’t stand the pain, burning and even bleeding during intercourse and she’s totally gone off sex, lost her libido and her relationship is in danger of disintegrating, that she takes herself off to see the doctor. She’s probably already gone to see the doctor about various other symptoms she’s experiencing at this time but couldn’t bring herself to discuss ‘down there’. Professor Nappi and her colleagues – and me, too, come to that – believe this conversation should come from the doctor.
Women, being women, try to fix the problem themselves and usually their first port of call is the local pharmacy, or worse, on-line. They try lubricants (not good) and vaginal moisturisers (better) but these products only offer short-term relief.
Oestrogen is Key
Probably the best treatment is locally applied oestrogen. This can come in the form of a tablet (inserted in the vagina), pessaries, creams or gels. The choice is yours. Just Do It!
Unjustified Fear of Hormone Treatment
So many women ask me about hormone treatment and cancer. All I can say is what I learn from the doctors and that is that these locally applied vaginal treatments is non-systemic. It stays in the vaginal area, plumps up the muscles and restores mucuous to the vaginal walls and all this keeps the vagina happy and healthy and this should be IMPORTANT to you because you can encounter so many problems further down the road if you pretend you can cope. This applies to women whether or not they are involved in any sexual relations.
Cinderalla of Menopause
Vaginal Atrophy is the ‘Cinderella of Menopause’, says Professor Nappi and it’s about time she came out of the closet. And understand this, VA is not a moment in life, it is forever and I urge you to Do Something About it.
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