| Key Survey Findings:
- Among 553 respondents, 73% were still sexually active after menopause.
- Among 555 respondents, 62% were experiencing pain during intercourse.
- Among 335 respondents who rated frequency of pain, 83% reported experiencing pain in half or more instances of sexual activity with 73% rating the pain moderate to severe.
- Almost 60% of 337 menopausal women respondents had never discussed their painful sex with a health care provider while, in contrast, 83% of 266 HCP respondents claimed to often or always discuss pain during sex with their menopausal patients.
- Among 308 respondents, 69% did not know that the painful sex they were experiencing is treatable.
“Women’s health is a topic that is often in the headlines, yet menopause is still an under-discussed stage of life, especially when it comes to lesser-known symptoms and impact on a woman’s sexual health,” said Barb Dehn, NP, and member of the HealthyWomen Women’s Health Advisory Council. “These findings show the need for improved communication between women and their HCPs, as well as general condition and treatment options awareness so women can lead fulfilling sex lives, pain-free.”
The survey also gave some insight into how women were electing to cope with painful sex. Among 314 respondents, 33% were avoiding sex altogether, and 45% were resorting to lubricants to manage pain.
While certain methods such as lubricants can provide temporary relief, these do not treat the underlying condition. A number of prescription therapies, including hormone-free oral tablets, are available to specifically treat moderate to severe painful sex due to menopause.
For more information on the survey: healthywomen.org/painfulsex
* This survey titled “What Do You Know about Your Sexual Health After Menopause?” was conducted within the United States by HealthyWomen in partnership with Duchesnay. It was conducted online from December 4, 2017, to March 18, 2018, among 832 women ages 45 and older and 305 women’s health care providers.
About Dyspareunia (painful sex)
Before menopause, estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, helps maintain the thickness and elasticity (stretchiness) of vaginal tissues. However, as women age, estrogen levels drop, causing changes in these tissues. These changes can lead to a medical condition called vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA), which can lead to painful sex. Left untreated, painful sex due to menopause can worsen. Dyspareunia is a common postmenopausal condition, with as many as one in three postmenopausal women experiencing pain during intercourse.