The Unexamined Life

Vaginal Health: Why Women Are Reluctant To Talk To Their Doctors

Vagina talk: About two-thirds of women having some menopause-related vulvovaginal issues such as vaginal itching, dryness and soreness don’t discuss the conditions with their doctors during their annual wellness check-up, according to a new study.

There are 1,500 women at their postmenopausal stage who were surveyed in the research that will be presented in the North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting in Chicago. Among the participants, 45 percent said to have been dealing with vulvovaginal issues and only less than 40 percent reported to have such issues and talked to their doctors about it.

What’s aggravating is that doctors didn’t ask about their vaginal health either. At most, 22 percent of doctors initiated to discuss the topic.

Of the participating women who said they did not tell their doctors of their vaginal health, 20 percent experienced itchiness around their vagina and 74 percent experienced vaginal dryness.

“People are always shy to talk about any sexual issues with their physicians,” Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and FACOG, said.

Dr. Richardson wishes that patients, especially women, would be more communicative about any of the health problems that they are going through.

“Don't be embarrassed, and do proactively bring up all of your symptoms,” Dr. Anna Cabeca, a gynecologist and obstetrician and a women’s health expert, wrote at mindbodygreen.

Dr. Cabeca continued that according to a research, women do not usually discuss vaginal dryness with their physician. In another study, 75 percent of these women experiencing such issue didn’t try to do anything about it for a year.

According to Kelly Gonsalves, sex and relationships editor at mindbodygreen, people possibly associate vaginal health to sex and with that, they might perceive sex as a private matter not appropriate to disclose.

“Add that to the lingering judgment some communities might still have about women having sex at all, and we create a situation where people can be pretty uncomfortable discussing anything even vaguely related to their vaginas,” Gonsalves wrote.

Recent studies show that being uncomfortable in discussing vaginal health with their doctors can be an underlying factor to a less satisfying sex life among women. "Meanwhile, talking regularly about your vaginal health and sex life has been linked to having better sex," Gonsalves added.

vaginal dryness An experimental softgel capsule improved quality of life for 63 percent of postmenopausal women participants suffering from vaginal dryness and atrophy. Roxanne Ready, CC by 2.0