The CLOSER (CLarifying Vaginal Atrophy's Impact On SEx and Relationships) Survey: Implications of Vaginal Discomfort in Postmenopausal Women and in Male Partners

Authors

  • Rossella E. Nappi MD, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    • Research Center for Reproductive , Medicine, Gynecological Endocrinology and Menopause Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, IRCCS “S. Matteo Foundation”, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
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  • Sheryl Kingsberg PhD,

    1. Department of Reproductive Biology and Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH, USA
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  • Ricardo Maamari MD, NCMP,

    1. Clinical, Medical and Regulatory Department, Novo Nordisk Inc., Princeton, NJ, USA
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  • James Simon MD, CCD, NCMP, FACOG

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, USA
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Corresponding Author: Rossella E. Nappi, MD, PhD, Research Center for Reproductive Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, IRCCS Policlinico “San Matteo,” Piazzale Golgi 2, 27100 Pavia, Italy. Tel: +39-0382-501561; Fax: +39-0382-423233; E-mail: renappi@tin.it

Abstract

Introduction

Postmenopausal vaginal atrophy (VA) is a chronic condition with symptoms that include vaginal dryness, soreness, itching, burning, and dyspareunia.

Aim

The CLarifying Vaginal Atrophy's Impact On SEx and Relationships survey evaluated the impact of VA on the physical and emotional aspects of sexual relationships between postmenopausal women and their male partners.

Methods

Four thousand one hundred females and 4,100 males representing the United Kingdom, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, France, Canada, and the United States were surveyed. Assessments included: (i) talking about VA and its symptoms; (ii) the impact of VA on intimacy, relationships, and women's self-esteem; (iii) talking about VA and erectile dysfunction (ED); and (iv) the impact of local estrogen therapy (LET) on intimacy and relationships.

Main Outcome Measures

Descriptive data on the impact of VA.

Results

Twenty-eight percent of women did not tell their partners when they first encountered vaginal discomfort, mainly because they felt “it was just a natural part of growing older” (52%) or because of “embarrassment” (21%). Eighty-two percent of males wanted their partner to share their experiences with VA; males were also more comfortable discussing VA than females (68% vs. 58%, respectively). Having sex less often (women: 58%, men: 61%), less satisfying sex (women: 49%, men: 28%), and putting off having sex (women: 35%, men: 14%) were the main effects of VA. Intimacy avoidance was attributed to painful sex (women: 55%, men: 61%) and women's reduced sexual desire (women: 46%, men: 43%). Discussions about vaginal discomfort and ED were generally limited to partners and healthcare providers (HCPs). LET use resulted in less painful sex (women: 62%, men: 59%) and more satisfying sex (women: 47%, men: 49%).

Conclusions

VA has an adverse emotional and physical impact on postmenopausal women and their partners. These findings may encourage more open communication about VA between couples and their HCPs. Nappi RE, Kingsberg S, Maamari R, and Simon J. The CLOSER (CLarifying Vaginal Atrophy's Impact On SEx and Relationships) survey: Implications of vaginal discomfort in postmenopausal women and in male partners. J Sex Med 2013;10:2232–2241.

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