Genitourinary Symptoms

After a certain age, many women feel invisible.

The sexual health of post-menopausal women is not a common topic of conversation. For most people it’s as awkward to acknowledge the sexuality of seniors as it is acknowledging the sexuality of our teenage children. Many women complain that their health care providers minimize their concerns about the uncomfortable side effects of decreasing estrogen, or more commonly, don’t discuss their sexuality at all during visits. But the generation of women who are now menopausal are used to maintaining a high quality of life, and expect that to continue into their menopausal years.

Most 50-60 year old women consider sexual health and relationship satisfaction integral to maintaining their quality of life. They want to continue to be sexually active, but sometimes the aging process undermines their efforts. Here are some common vaginal complaints that are the result of decreasing estrogen:

  • Vaginal dryness and lack of lubrication
  • Vaginal tissues become thin and pale and they lose elasticity
  • Genital itching and burning
  • Discomfort with intercourse
  • Increase in urinary incontinence
  • Vagina becomes shorter and narrower
Given that women live, on average, about 30 years after menopause, the genitourinary symptoms of menopause (GSM) affects a large number of women. These menopause-related genitourinary symptoms may occur early in the menopause transition, or not until after several years of reduced estrogen levels. Regardless of when genitourinary symptoms of menopause occur, they can be painful and have negative effects on relationships and quality of life.