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Health care professionals are trained to understand all symptoms of menopause, so there’s no reason for women to be embarrassed about initiating a discussion about the symptoms they are experiencing.

Revealing menopausal symptoms you may not have heard about

Although most postmenopausal women have heard of the traditional symptoms related to menopause - like hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings - according to the REVEAL (REvealing Vaginal Effects At mid-Life) Surveys, fewer have heard of vulvar and vaginal pain and physical discomfort during sexual activity which may also occur during menopause. The REVEAL Surveys were conducted on behalf of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (now a part of Pfizer Inc) and polled 1,006 postmenopausal women and 602 health care professionals who treat postmenopausal women.

Interestingly, half of the postmenopausal women surveyed agreed that they have learned to live with the vulvar and vaginal symptoms of menopause, such as dryness, as a normal part of getting older. For many postmenopausal women, a disconnect exists between the symptoms they experience and the conversations they are having with their health care professionals. For example, 25 percent of the women surveyed reported that they experienced dyspareunia, or painful sexual intercourse, at least sometimes; however, less than half of those women (44 percent) have spoken with their health care professional about this condition. So, why are these women keeping quiet?

Embarrassment may be one reason. In fact, among those experiencing dyspareunia who have not spoken to their health care professional about this condition, the No. 1 reason why was embarrassment (39 percent), followed by the belief that there is nothing that can be done medically to help (26 percent). Further, roughly half of all women surveyed (47 percent) agreed it is still taboo in society to acknowledge experiencing symptoms of menopause such as vulvar and vaginal dryness or painful intercourse. But women should not be embarrassed about talking to their health care professional about these symptoms.

"As health care professionals, we are trained to understand all of the symptoms associated with menopause and nothing you say should surprise us," says Dr. Michael Krychman, medical director of sexual medicine at Hoag Hospital, executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, and a REVEAL collaborator. "Every woman experiences menopause differently, so talk with your health care professional about any symptoms you may be having. Schedule an appointment and initiate the discussion."

The first step to understanding menopausal symptoms is starting the conversation, according to Krychman. He provides the following suggested tips to ensure women feel comfortable talking with their health care professional:

* Do your homework. Educate yourself on common symptoms associated with menopause, including those affecting your vaginal health.

* Write down your personal symptom experience or use an online assessor, like the one found at www.revealsurvey.com, and bring those results with you to your medical visit.

* Choose words you are comfortable with and practice what you're going to say.

* Take notes during the discussion to make sure you remember key points and follow treatment recommendations appropriately between appointments.

For information on the REVEAL Surveys and to learn more about the vaginal symptoms due to menopause, visit www.revealsurvey.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent