Although hot flushes and night sweats are universally recognised as the most common symptoms of the menopause in the Western world, vulvovaginal atrophy remains a cause of concern for many postmenopausal women.
The female genital and lower urinary tracts share a common embryological origin, arising from the urogenital sinus, and both are sensitive to the effects of the female sex steroid hormones throughout life. Following the menopause at least half of all women will experience symptoms related to urogenital atrophy affecting sexual function and quality of life. The term vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA) has been used to describe the changes seen and the symptoms experienced in the vulva and vagina in postmenopausal women. The term genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) was chosen in 2013 by an American consensus meeting of the The North American Menopause Society and the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health as it was felt to be more accurate, all encompassing and more acceptable than VVA. Both terms refer to the same clinical picture.
Picture credit: © Laurent Hamels/Dollar Photo Club. Model used for illustrative purposes only.