Half Of Menopausal Women Settle For Less Sex

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More than half of U.S. women ages 35 and over are having less sex during menopause than before menopause.

According to the recent Sex & Menopause Survey, commissioned by the Red Hot Mamas, a leading menopause patient organization, sponsored by Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and conducted by Harris Interactive, 54 percent of those polled reported a decrease in the frequency of sex after entering menopause.

The survey also revealed that more than three-quarters (76%) of women surveyed in committed or long-term relationships say that sex is at least somewhat an important part of that relationship yet less than half of those surveyed (45%) say they are satisfied with the amount of sex they have.

"Women today, specifically the boomer generation currently entering or experiencing menopause, are much more open about their needs and seek information more than previous generations, so it's surprising to me that so many women would settle for a less than satisfying sex life as a result of menopausal symptoms," said Karen Giblin, founder of the Red Hot Mamas Menopause Management Educational Programs.

Not every woman's menopause is the same. Some women may experience vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats and others may also experience vaginal atrophy (vaginal narrowing or shrinkage) which can cause vaginal dryness and painful sex. If left untreated over time, women could experience vaginal atrophy, which can lead to sexual dysfunction and/or physically uncomfortable sexual experiences. Despite the possibility of vaginal atrophy and its symptoms, 47 percent of women surveyed reported they are not at all knowledgeable about the condition as a symptom of menopause while the majority of all women reported being at least somewhat knowledgeable about the more commonly talked about symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes (95%) and night sweats (91%).

The survey also revealed that women who experienced vaginal atrophy are more likely to also report a decrease in frequency of sex:

-- Seventy-five percent of these women reported having less sex since entering menopause and 68 percent reported experiencing pain during active sex

-- The majority (88%) of women who experienced vaginal atrophy said their symptoms are at least somewhat problematic

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-- Almost half (47%) of these women reported that they have avoided, made an excuse or stopped having sex altogether because of physical discomfort

Approximately half (51%) of those who reported experiencing symptoms of menopause reported that they experienced vaginal dryness. Of those, 79 percent reported the symptom as having an effect on their sex lives.

"If left untreated, over time, women will experience changes such as vaginal atrophy and dryness that can make physical intimacy uncomfortable, even painful. But they do not need to give up on sex altogether," stated Murray A. Freedman, M.D., Augusta GYN, P.C., Augusta, GA. "Sadly, most women are unaware that these conditions are treatable. Effective therapies, which range from over-the-counter lubricants to FDA approved hormone therapy, are readily available. Equally important is the effect of continued sexual activity. While it may seem like reverse logic, having intercourse can help ease the severity of vaginal atrophy."

That is good news for the partners of those in a relationship. More than one-third (36%) of those surveyed in a committed relationship who reported a decrease in the frequency of sexual relations said that their partners are upset with the decrease in frequency. Sixty percent of those polled reported openly discussing the symptoms of menopause with their partners and 67 percent say their partners understand about the impact of menopause on their lives. That, however, is not the case with women who reported a decrease in sexual activity. Less then half (46%) have discussed the decrease in frequency of sex with anyone, including their partner.

The survey results also show some good news; women are seeking more information on menopause. Eighty-four percent of those polled use some resource - healthcare professionals, media and the internet - to obtain information on menopause, its symptoms and treatment options. Whether they are getting the right information is another story. "Given that less than half of those polled consider themselves very knowledgeable on any of the common symptoms of menopause (including night sweats, hot flashes, etc.) and only 35 percent consider themselves very knowledgeable or knowledgeable about hormone therapy as a treatment option more education is clearly necessary," said Giblin.

About the Survey

The Sex & Menopause Survey was commissioned by The Red Hot Mamas and sponsored by Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Harris Interactive conducted the online survey in the U.S. between June 20 and July 2, 2007 among 1,054 women ages 35 and over who are perimenopausal, menopausal or post-menopausal. Four hundred and sixty nine of these women specifically reported suffering from vaginal symptoms such as vaginal atrophy, vaginal dryness, increased urinary tract infections and pain during active sex. Data have been weighted to be representative of the total population of U.S. women ages 35 and older by the following variables: education level, region, income, age by sex and race/ethnicity. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

With a pure probability sample of 1,054, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-5 percentage points. Sampling error for sub samples would be higher and would vary. However, that does not take other sources of error into account. This survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About Menopause

Menopause is the time in a woman's life when the menstrual period ceases and the ovaries permanently stop releasing eggs. Menopause is considered complete when a woman has been without her period for a full year. While some women experience no menopausal symptoms, others suffer severe symptoms that require treatment. Vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) and vaginal atrophy are the most common menopausal symptoms. Although the majority of women experience "natural" or spontaneous menopause, some women may experience menopause due to a medical intervention such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

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