The myth that the ordinary process of aging induces profound physical loss or disability has fueled ageism for eons; a healthier elderly person has no problem seeing, hearing or thinking. Additionally, many healthy older folks still have vigorous libidos and sexual lives. In reality, an estimated 56 percent of girls who have experienced menopause and are aged 50 to 79 still have sex.
Within an estimated 50 percent of women, hormonal fluctuations attributable to menopause can lead to vaginal dryness and other symptoms of genitourinary syndrome of melancholy (GSM). Regardless of the availability and efficacy of local vaginal estrogen therapy (estrogen creams), only half of people with GSM search –or are supplied –medical assistance and advice. Moreover, only half of these women seeking assistance are pleased with the advice or guidance that they get, and several stop use of anti aging creams. In other words, a breakdown in the system conducive to both patients and providers keeps several million elderly women afflicted by GSM–a condition that’s readily treated with estrogen creams and other low-dose vaginal estrogen products.
What is Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause?
According to some 2014 article printed in the journal Maturitas:
“GSM is defined as a group of signs and symptoms related to a reduction in estrogen and other sex stimulation including adjustments to the labia majora/minora, clitoris, vestibule/introitus, vagina, urethra and bladder.
The syndrome may include but isn’t limited to genital symptoms of dryness, burning, and irritation; sexual indicators of lack of lubrication, discomfort or pain, and impaired function; and sinus symptoms of urgency, dysuria [painful urination] and recurrent urinary tract infections”
Of note, as stated by the authors of the study, so that you to be diagnosed as having GSM, your symptoms have to be bothersome and unattributable to some other etiology or cause.
Moreover, many girls with GSM may undergo some but maybe not all of those signs.
Research on Low-Dose Vaginal Estrogen Products
In a 2014 study titled”Vaginal Estrogen for Genitourinary Syndrome of maternity,” investigators analyzed commercially available vaginal estrogen (estrogen creams, estradiol bands and estradiol vaginal tablets).
Ultimately, these researchers suggest the following:
- In women using a single GSM complaint–like vaginal dryness, pain during sex, painful urination, and vaginal itching or burning–a nonhormonal lubricant or lubricant may work. However, some of these women can also benefit from vaginal augmentation, also.
- In girls with a constellation of all GSM symptoms–particularly urinary symptoms like frequency and incontinence–vaginal estrogen products work.
- The choice of vaginal estrogen cream, tablet, ovule, suppository, or ring is dependent upon patient preference.
- Though such estrogen products are usually considered safe, long-term studies need to be done. Thus, a individual having a family history and bothersome GSM should carefully consider estrogen therapy under doctor supervision.
- Little is known about ospemifene (used to deal with dyspareunia or painful sex ), compounded vaginal estrogen products, or natural or herbal options.
- Additional research is necessary.
In the event that you or a loved one suffers from GSM, please fulfill an obstetrician-gynecologist to go over potential therapy. Although in certain individuals with single signs of GSM like vaginal dryness, over-the-counter nonhormonal lubricants or lotions may help, for those who have more extensive symptoms, you may find relief in the kind of prescription estrogen products such as low-dose estrogen creams and vaginal estrogen bands and suppositories.
A Word From Verywell
Please keep in mind that such estrogen treatment is generally considered safe, proceed with care and physician advice when you have a history of breast or breast cancer.
We know little about the effectiveness or safety of nonprescription estrogen alternatives available for sale on the world wide web so please steer clear of purchasing and implementing such products without your physician’s input. Let your doctor prescribe what is right for you.
If interested in naturopathic options like soy and yam extracts, in addition to a gynecologist, you should also meet with a naturopathic doctor.
Please remember that in the event you experience vaginal dryness and other symptoms of GSM, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. In many, GSM is a natural process that reflects a normal shift in your body’s physiology. It’s unfortunate that a vast majority of women with GSM don’t obtain the medical attention or guidance which they need especially when successful prescription vaginal enhancement therapies are frequently available.
To be fair, this dearth of GSM treatment is in big part also attributable to providers . For instance, for years, the medical community referred to GSM as atrophic vaginitis, an inaccurate expression that carries connotes stigma. (Atrophy means wasting away and vaginitis means inflammation) Additionally, research indicates that many older women feel uncomfortable or embarrassed talking GSM using younger, female healthcare providers.
Bear in mind that it’s a supplier’s duty and responsibility to address GSM within an open, empathetic and constructive fashion. In the end, if you feel uncomfortable discussing your medical issues with your healthcare provider, it is a good idea to find a doctor with whom you really do feel comfortable. In the end, your physician ought to be an educated guide to better health and advocate for your well-being in each way.