Vasomotor and sexual symptoms in older Australian women A cross sectional study

Capsule:
Vasomotor and vaginal atrophy symptoms are common in community-dwelling older women but are predominantly untreated. The degree of distress caused by sexual symptoms among older women needs further exploration.

Authors:
Berihun M. Zeleke, M.D., M.P.H., Robin J. Bell, M.B.B.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., Baki Billah, B.Sc.(Hons.), M.Sc., M.A.S., Ph.D., Susan R. Davis, M.B.B.S., Ph.D.

Volume 105, Issue 1, Pages 149-155

Abstract:

Objectives:
To determine the prevalence and severity of vasomotor symptoms (VMS) and sexual symptoms in community-dwelling older women, and to explore factors associated with VMS.

Design:
Population-based cross-sectional study.

Setting:
Community-dwelling women living in Australia.

Participant(s):
A total of 1,548 women aged 65–79 years.

Intervention(s):None.

Main Outcomes Measure(s):
The presence and self-rated severity of VMS (hot flashes, night sweats, or sweating), and sexual symptoms (intimacy, desire, and vaginal dryness) were determined with the use of the Menopause Quality of Life (MenQOL) questionnaire.

Result(s):
All items of the vasomotor and the sexual MenQOL domains were completed by 1,532 and 1,361 of the study participants, respectively. Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) use was reported by 6.2% of the women, and 6.9% reported using vaginal estrogen. Among the 1,426 women not using MHT, at least 1 VMS was reported by 32.8%. The prevalence of VMS rated as moderately to severely bothersome was 3.4%. A total of 54.4% of currently partnered women had sexual symptoms, and 32.5% reported vaginal dryness during intercourse in the past month. In the multivariate analysis, factors significantly associated with VMS were age, obesity, being a caregiver for another person, and bilateral oophorectomy.

Conclusion(s):
VMS and vaginal atrophy symptoms are common in community-dwelling older women, but they are predominantly untreated. The degree of distress caused by sexual symptoms among older women needs further exploration.

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