The following topics concerning the uro-genital areas may be found in the AMS Information Sheets.
Vulvovaginal symptoms after menopause
As women age they will experience changes to their vagina and urinary system largely due to decreasing levels of the hormone oestrogen.
The changes, which may cause dryness, irritation, itching and pain with intercourse (1-3), are known as the genito-urinary syndrome of menopause (GSM)(4) and can affect up to 50% of postmenopausal women (4). GSM was previously known as atrophic vaginitis.
Unlike some menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, which may disappear as time passes; genito-urinary problems often persist and may progress with time. Genito-urinary symptoms are associated both with menopause and with aging (4).
Changes in vaginal and urethral health occur with natural and surgical menopause, as well as after treatments for certain medical conditions (Please refer to AMS Information Sheet 'Vaginal health after breast cancer: A guide for patients').
Vaginal health after breast cancer: A guide for patients
Women who have had breast cancer treatment before menopause might find they develop symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, joint aches and vaginal dryness.
These are symptoms of low oestrogen, which occur naturally with age, but may also occur in younger women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. These changes are called the genito-urinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), which was previously known as atrophic vaginitis.
Unlike some menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, which may go away as time passes, vaginal dryness, discomfort with intercourse and changes in sexual function often persist and may get worse with time.
The increased use of adjuvant treatments (medications that are used after surgery/chemotherapy/radiotherapy), which evidence shows reduce the risk of the cancer recurring, unfortunately leads to more side-effects.
Your health and comfort are important, so don’t be embarrassed about raising these issues with your doctor.
This Information Sheet offers some advice for what you can do to maintain the health of your vagina, your vulva (the external genitals) and your urethra (outlet from the bladder), with special attention to the needs of women who have had breast cancer treatment.
Note: Medical and scientific information provided and endorsed by the Australasian Menopause Society might not be relevant to a particular person's circumstances and should always be discussed with that person's own healthcare provider.
These Information Sheets may contain copyright or otherwise protected material. Reproduction of this Information Sheet by Australasian Menopause Society Members and other health professionals for clinical practice is permissible. Any other use of this information (hardcopy and electronic versions) must be agreed to and approved by the Australasian Menopause Society.
Content Updated May 2021