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Another huge taboo!

Portfolio politics

Louise Newson

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

GP consultation_AdobeStock_91502683.jpgVaginal dryness is a common condition, with some studies quoting prevalence figures as high as 80% in postmenopausal women. Although vaginal dryness can affect women of all ages, it is particularly common in menopausal and postmenopausal women, and can have a very negative impact on a woman’s quality of life as well as her sexuality. Vaginal dryness is most frequently caused by the reduction in oestrogen production that occurs during the menopause.

The term genitourinary syndrome of the menopause (GSM) has been suggested to use instead of vulvovaginal atrophy as this includes the changes that occur to the urinary tract as a result of low oestrogen levels.

Many women have never spoken about their symptoms to their partners, friends or a healthcare professional. Commonly, this is due to embarrassment and also to lack of knowledge about available treatments.

This condition is underdiagnosed and also undertreated. Many healthcare professionals are not asking the right questions to their patients in order for this diagnosis to be made. This means that many women are needlessly suffering with symptoms that can affect their ability to walk, sit down, exercise and have sexual intercourse.

The treatment of GSM is usually very easy and there are numerous safe, effective treatments available. Topical oestrogens are very safe and are often used with vaginal moisturisers and lubricants.

I have recently written “Guidance on diagnosis and management of urogenital atrophy or genitourinary syndrome of the menopause (GSM)” in conjunction with Dr Carrie Sadler on behalf of the Primary Care Women’s Health Forum. We are hoping these will be well circulated and used by doctors and nurses to really make a difference to women who are unnecessarily suffering with this condition.

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Louise Newson

Louise is a part-time GP in Solihull, as well as a writer for numerous medical publications, including www.patient.info. She is an Editor and Reviewer for e-learning courses for the RCGP. She is an Editor for Geriatric Medicine journal and the British Journal of Family Medicine. Louise has contributed to various healthcare articles in many different newspapers and magazines and is the spokesperson for The Information Standard. She has also done television and radio work. Louise is a medical consultant for Maverick TV and has participated regularly in ‘Embarrassing Bodies Live from the Clinic’. Louise has three young children and is married to a consultant urological surgeon. Although her spare time is limited she enjoys practising ashtanga yoga regularly and loves road cycling – she has raised over £2K for a local charity, Molly Olly Wishes by competing in a 120km cycle ride!
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