~ Survey reveals symptoms of vaginal atrophy are causing Canadian couples to avoid sexual intimacy ~
TORONTO, May 6, 2013 /CNW/ - It may not be the most romantic topic for couples to discuss over a candlelit dinner, but it might be a conversation that helps rekindle the romance. A new study reveals that more than six in 10 Canadian women admit they avoid sexual intimacy due to the symptoms of vaginal atrophy (VA), a chronic condition of menopause that needs to be discussed.1
Results from a first-of-its-kind study, CLOSER (CLarifying vaginal atrophy's impact On SEx and Relationships), presented at the Canadian Menopause Society's (SIGMA) first annual Canadian Menopause Conference May 4, 2013, reveals Canadian women and their partners are one of the most likely out of nine countries surveyed to feel VA has caused them to avoid sexual intimacy.1
Affecting more than two million post-menopausal Canadian women,2 VA is a common, treatable condition where the vaginal walls become thin, fragile and inflamed due to a reduction of estrogen.3 Vaginal symptoms include: burning, itching, dryness, irritation and painful intercourse.4 Despite the physical and emotional burden VA causes, couples are still uncomfortable talking about it.
It takes two to tango - even when it comes to discussing VA
Regardless of its prevalence, VA is still considered a taboo subject when compared to erectile dysfunction (ED), which is now commonplace discussion. According to the CLOSER findings:
- Nearly one quarter of Canadian women feel uncomfortable discussing VA with their partner1
- In comparison to other countries, Canadian men would rather their partner did not talk to them about VA1
- If a woman's partner was suffering from ED, three out of four women would talk about it with their partner1
- Eighty-six per cent of men surveyed say they would discuss ED with their partner, and 83 per cent would discuss it with their healthcare professional1
Dr. Vivien Brown, Family Physician and NAMS Certified Menopause Expert, presented the Canadian results. According to Dr. Brown, the study offers the first opportunity to examine the impact VA is having on the intimacy between Canadian women and their partners.
"Unlike the discussion happening with ED, no one is talking about VA," said Dr. Brown. "We need to encourage dialogue between women and their physicians to ensure VA is properly diagnosed and treated; as well as encourage dialogue between women and their partners, so couples can continue to enjoy their relationship. Women can still feel sexy and desirable during and long after menopause, and it's important for couples to know this."
Why VA is keeping couples out of the bedroom
More than 1,000 Canadian post-menopausal women and male partners of post-menopausal women participated in the CLOSER survey. They may not be talking to each other about VA, but couples are feeling the impact. According to the survey findings:
- Sixty-six per cent of post-menopausal women avoid sexual intimacy fearing it is too painful1
- Sixty-three per cent of women avoid sexual intimacy due to a general loss of libido1
- Canadian women are among the most likely to agree that due to VA sex is less satisfying1
- One fifth of women feel VA has made them emotionally distant from their partner1
- Forty-four per cent of women say VA makes them feel old1
- Sixty-eight per cent of men surveyed say they have sex less often because of VA1
- Thirty per cent of men say sex is less satisfying for them personally1
- Twenty-six per cent of Canadian men say they have stopped having sex altogether1
When Joan Boone started experiencing symptoms of VA, she and her husband learned what it was like to put their intimacy on hold.
"The symptoms of VA really affected my relationship with my husband," said Joan. "I felt pain during intercourse, and it impacted my self-esteem. Talking about VA with my husband was difficult at first, but when I finally did, it gave me the confidence to speak to my doctor about treatment, and it changed my life. Treatment made me feel renewed and ready for intimacy again. I feel it helped repair a relationship strained unnecessarily by VA."
Breaking barriers and seeking a solution
VA affects more than a women's vaginal health; it can significantly impact her relationship as well. Yet, many women self-treat using over-the-counter lubricants and moisturizers, which may provide temporary relief of symptoms but do not treat the underlying condition.1 On the other hand, local estrogen therapy (LET), treats the underlying condition.5 As a result of LET, one third of Canadian women agreed their sex life had improved and that they felt more satisfied and optimistic about the future of their sex life.1
"Sexual intimacy is important at any age, yet many couples are living with the physical and emotional burden of this condition," said Dr. Brown. "VA treatment is available and effective. Healthcare professionals are a primary source of information, and together, women, their partners and their doctors can find a solution. It's not just about intimacy; it's also about feeling good as a woman, in all aspects of your life."
According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), effective treatment options are available for VA, with local estrogen therapy being a standard of care.5
For more information about VA, and to learn what you can do, visit www.TheBigOw.ca.
About the CLOSER Survey
The CLOSER research was an online survey conducted by StrategyOne (partnering with Ipsos MORI) between December 13, 2011 and February 7, 2012. The survey was completed by 4,100 post-menopausal women, aged between 55-65 who had ceased menstruating for at least 12 months and have experienced VA, and 4,100 male partners of post-menopausal women aged 55-65 who have ceased menstruating for at least 12 months and have experienced VA. The participants were located across nine countries: US, UK, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Italy and France.
About Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.
Novo Nordisk is a healthcare company and a world leader in diabetes care and biopharmaceuticals. Novo Nordisk manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products and services that make a significant difference to patients, the medical profession and society. Novo Nordisk's business is driven by the Triple Bottom Line: a commitment to economic success, environmental soundness, and social responsibility to employees and customers. For more information, visit www.novonordisk.ca.
1 CLarifying vaginal atrophy's impact On SEx and Relationships (CLOSER).
European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS) Annual Congress, March
2 Vagifem 10 AB12 Novo Nordisk Canada Inc, Data on File.
3 Mayo Clinic: Vaginal Atrophy Definition. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-atrophy/DS00770. Last accessed April 2013.
4 The Big Ow - Symptoms. Available at: http://www.thebigow.ca/WhatIsTheBigOw/WhatItFeelsLike.aspx Last accessed April 2013.
5 SOGC Clinical Practice Guidelines: The Detection and Management of Vaginal Atrophy. Available at: http://www.sogc.org/guidelines/public/145E-CPg-May2004.pdf. Last accessed April 2013.
SOURCE Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.