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Experiences of Women's Vaginal Dryness Differs from Country to Country

Review on November 03, 2009

Previous articles have referred to psychological and social factors that influence the symptoms of menopause. Vaginal dryness was one of the symptoms mentioned. However, a new study on menopausal vaginal dryness reveals that cultural plays a role as well. The study (2009) by Leiblum et al., titled "Vaginal Dryness: A Comparison of Prevalence and Interventions in 11 Countries." explores this issue in depth. It aims to examine the prevalence of vaginal dryness in different countries, the extent to which vaginal dryness is perceived to problematic, how women discuss the problem with their physicians and the rate at which they use lubricants to seek relief from their vaginal dryness. The study encompasses eleven countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Thailand.

The report showed that women in Italy experience the least instances of vaginal dryness, at the rate of 5.8 percent. Brazilian women reported experiencing the most instances of vaginal dryness, at the rate of 19.7 percent. However, a most interesting result was that the countries that reported the highest incidence of vaginal dryness were not the ones that were most bothered by it. Germans reported suffering the most pain from vaginal dryness, at the rate of 26.4 percent, while women in the United Kingdom appeared to suffer little from vaginal dryness, suffering only at the rate of 5.6 percent. However, neither reporting the experience of vaginal dryness, nor proclaiming to suffer from it correlated with the percentage of women professed to suffer from vaginal dryness during sex. Australian women experienced the least instances of vaginal dryness (3.6 percent.) while Brazilian women reported experiencing the most pain during intercourse (18.6 percent).

As a women gets older, she is known to experience vaginal dryness. Menopause brings on this symptom, since the hormones in the body are changing drastically. The changes it brings result in vaginal dryness after menopause as well. However, women across different countries did not necessarily differ amongst age groups in the rate at which they suffered from vaginal dryness. Besides dividing up the women by country, the study separated them by age group as well. The older group was between fifty and sixty five years of age while the younger group was between eighteen and thirty four. The differences in women's ages did not necessarily predict that older women suffered from vaginal dryness more, although in these countries it did: the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and Thailand. And, of course, the way women of different nationalities talked to their physicians about their menopausal vaginal dryness varied most widely.

Sources:
  • "Vaginal Dryness". Mayo Clinic Health Resource. 2007
  • "Vulvovaginal Symptoms". The Changing Body: Menopause Handbook. www.menopause.org
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.