What are postmenopausal women leaving unsaid?

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Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 8:00 pm

(ARA) - Characterized as a generation who led the sexual revolution in the sixties, many baby boomer women are reluctant to talk with their partners or healthcare professionals about the conditions they're experiencing as a result of menopause, including vaginal atrophy (a-truh-fee). Why are they suffering in silence? And why has this discussion remained taboo even though it is shared by women everywhere? There is some basic information women should be aware of and an option that is available to help women relieve their postmenopausal vaginal symptoms.

What is Vaginal Atrophy?

As women experience menopause, their bodies produce less estrogen, a female hormone. Lower levels of estrogen can cause changes in the body, such as atrophy of the vagina and lower urinary tract. Atrophy is the thinning of these tissues. These changes typically start during and continue after menopause (or "postmenopause"). This is the time in a woman's life when her menstrual cycle ends. Many women will be around 51 when this happens.

Recognizing Symptoms

Unfortunately, many postmenopausal women may not be aware that their vaginal symptoms may be related to menopause. While most postmenopausal women are aware of hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, fewer have heard of women experiencing symptoms of vaginal atrophy. These symptoms may include vaginal burning, itching and dryness, increased urgency in urination and painful sexual intercourse. Women may find these postmenopausal vaginal symptoms difficult to discuss and may hesitate talking about some symptoms, like painful sexual intercourse.

Taking Control

Although more than half of postmenopausal women experience vaginal dryness, a recent online survey conducted by HealthyWomen.org and Pfizer Inc. showed that 46 percent of postmenopausal women are not aware that prescription treatments are available to help manage the postmenopausal vaginal symptoms they are experiencing. Although these treatments are not right for everyone, many women have found success managing their symptoms.

It's critical that women not only understand what they're experiencing, but to communicate how they're feeling to their healthcare providers so they can receive an accurate diagnosis and learn about an available treatment option and create a plan to properly manage their symptoms.

Baby boomer women need to take control. To the women who led the sexual revolution, speak up! Be vocal about your vaginal health and talk to your doctor about the postmenopausal vaginal symptoms you may be experiencing.

Ask About A Treatment Option

If you're experiencing postmenopausal vaginal symptoms, including vaginal itching, burning and dryness, painful intercourse, urinary urgency or painful urination, one treatment option to discuss with your doctor is ESTRING® (estradiol vaginal ring). ESTRING contains a plant-based form of estrogen, which works like your body's natural estrogen to treat these local symptoms. Once inserted, ESTRING works to help relieve these symptoms by releasing a steady, low-dose of estradiol for a 90-day treatment period. ESTRING is inserted once for a 90-day treatment period and removed after 90 days. So after you insert one, you're done for 90 days. You do not have to remember to insert it every day.

Estrogens should be used only as long as needed. You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly (such as every 3 to 6 months) about continued use of estrogen-containing products like ESTRING. You should discuss the potential benefits and risks of ESTRING with your healthcare provider. Do not use ESTRING if you have unusual vaginal bleeding, have or have had cancer of the breast or uterus, had a stroke or heart attack, have or have had blood clots or liver problems, are allergic to any of its ingredients, or think you may be pregnant.

For more information on ESTRING, please see: Important Safety Information; full Prescribing Information, including a boxed warning, and Patient Information on Estring.com.

Now is the time to break the silence and seek treatment. Don't delay - have a conversation with your doctor about your postmenopausal vaginal symptoms and ask if ESTRING is the right treatment option for you. Visit Estring.com for more information.

This information is courtesy of Pfizer Inc.

Indication

ESTRING is used after menopause to treat moderate to severe vaginal itching, burning and dryness, painful intercourse, urinary urgency, and painful urination.

Important Safety Information

Estrogens increase the risk of cancer of the uterus. It is important that you report any unusual vaginal bleeding to your healthcare provider right away.

Do not use estrogens with or without progestins to prevent heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, or dementia.

Using estrogens with or without progestins may increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, breast cancer or blood clots. Using estrogens with or without progestins may increase your risk of dementia, based on a study of women age 65 years or older.

Estrogens should only be used for as long as needed. You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly about whether you still need treatment with ESTRING® (estradiol vaginal ring).

ESTRING should be removed after 90 days of continued use.

Do not use ESTRING if you have unusual vaginal bleeding, have or have had cancer of the breast or uterus, had a stroke or heart attack, have or have had blood clots or liver problems, are allergic to any of its ingredients, or think you may be pregnant.

The most frequently reported side effects are headaches, increased vaginal secretions, vaginal discomfort, abdominal pain, and genital itching.

Call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following warning signs: breast lumps, unusual vaginal bleeding, dizziness and faintness, changes in speech, severe headaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in your legs, or changes in vision.

Carefully follow instructions for use. If you have difficulty removing ESTRING, contact your healthcare provider right away.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see full Prescribing and Patient Information, including Boxed Warning.

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