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      Recommendations for the management of postmenopausal vaginal atrophy.

      Administration, Intravaginal, Adult, Africa South of the Sahara, Asia, Atrophy, Attitude to Health, Body Fluids, physiology, Culture, Dyspareunia, etiology, Estrogens, administration & dosage, adverse effects, deficiency, therapeutic use, Europe, Female, Humans, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, India, Latin America, Lubricants, Middle Aged, Middle East, Postmenopause, Quality of Life, Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological, therapy, Urethra, pathology, Urologic Diseases, Vagina, chemistry, Vaginal Diseases

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          Unlike hot flushes and night sweats which resolve spontaneously in time, atrophic symptoms affecting the vagina and lower urinary tract are often progressive and frequently require treatment. The prevalence of vaginal dryness increases as a woman advances through the postmenopausal years, causing itching, burning and dyspareunia, and sexual activity is often compromised. But, despite the various safe and effective options, only a minority (about 25% in the Western world and probably considerably less in other areas) will seek medical help. Some of this reluctance is due to the adverse publicity for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) over recent years that has suggested an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. But, regardless of whether these scares are justified, local treatment of vaginal atrophy is not associated with these possible risks of systemic HRT. Other reasons for the continued suffering in silence may be cultural and an understandable reluctance to discuss such matters, particularly with a male doctor, but the medical profession must also take much of the blame for failing to enquire of all postmenopausal women about the possibility of vaginal atrophic symptoms. Vaginal dryness can be helped by simple lubricants but the best and most logical treatment for urogenital atrophy is to use local estrogen. This is safe, effective and with few contraindications. It is hoped that these guidelines and recommendations, produced to coincide with World Menopause Day 2010, will help to highlight this major cause of distress and reduced quality of life and will encourage women and their medical advisers all over the world to seek and provide help.

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