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5 Myths About Midlife Genitourinary Health Issues Debunked

Menopause is a natural body change, which occurs after 12 consecutive months without getting a menstrual period. During that time, several changes affect the normal sexual and urinary health.

Each body responds to menopause differently, and some women may experience more severe symptoms, which include Genitourinary Menopause Syndrome (GSM). This condition affects 50 to 70% of women in menopause, globally.

While GSM is a prevalent chronic condition, confusion still exists about its effects. As such, many myths, misconceptions, and even stigma have been associated with it. In this guide, we will debunk the five common myths about this condition to prevent unnecessary worry and misunderstandings. Keep reading.

  What Is Genitourinary Syndrome Of Menopause?

Midlife Genitourinary Health

GSM is a chronic condition that makes menopausal women experience vaginal dryness, irritation around the vulva, and a strong urge to urinate, which may sometimes lead to incontinence. The signs of GSM are similar to those of menopause, only that they tend to be extreme and can affect the urinary tract.

Women with GSM may experience low sexual desire because of the discomfort and irritation associated with it. However, there is a wide range of treatment options, such as lubricants to ease pain during sex and pelvic floor exercises. If you or a dear one suffers from the genitourinary syndrome of menopause, seek treatment quickly enough to manage it and boost your sexual health.

Five Common Myths about Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause

Get the truth about the following myths you may have heard about GSM.

  1. GSM Kills Your Sex Life

Some people assume that GSM can completely kill your desire and ability to have sex, but this is not true. Ideally, the condition can lower your sexual desire because of the vaginal dryness symptoms, but your sex life doesn’t have to die or get boring if you suffer from it.

There’s no need to panic when diagnosed with GSM; you can apply plenty of practical solutions to manage the discomfort. If the condition affects your sex life, consider the following solutions to keep everything in order once more.

  • Visit a doctor right away to determine if there are underlying conditions, like infection, which cause dryness in your vagina.
  • Use lubricants before sex to reduce discomfort.
  • Apply a moisturizer at least three times per week to keep your vaginal tissues moist and reduce dryness.
  • Tell your partner about what you are going through to come up with solutions which work for both of you.
  • Take more time in foreplay to prepare your body for sex fully.
  • Have sex more often to increase the flow of blood to the vagina.
  1. Only Severe GSM Symptoms Need Treatment

Both hormonal and non-hormonal treatments for GSM are available. These treatments work well for people with mild and severe effects. Therefore, it’s untrue that you should only seek treatment when symptoms worsen. The earlier you start treatment, the better because you can control the effects of the treatment on your daily life.

Common symptoms that you may experience when suffering from GSM include:

  • Vaginal systems like dryness, irritation, itching, and thinning of the walls
  • Sexual changes like discomfort during sex, reduced libido, and little or no lubrication
  • Urinary changes like pain when urinating, incontinence, and infections.

Don’t wait for the symptoms to become severe. Talk to the doctor immediately if you notice a slight change in the vagina, sexual health, or the urinary system.

  1. GSM Automatically Starts At 50

GSM can occur at any menopause stage, and not necessarily when you hit 50 years. Some people may experience it as early as 45, while the symptoms may appear in others at 55.

In line with this study, the average age of menopause is 48.8 years. Ethnicity, genetic variation and environmental variants are common factors that affect its occurrence. Lifestyle factors like level of activity, occupation, and smoking may also determine how soon your menopause starts.

Don’t assume age when it comes to GSM. Seek a doctor’s advice to help decide whether it’s GSM, regardless of age.

  1. GSM Symptoms Are the Same for Everyone

Menopause symptoms vary from one person to another, and the same case applies to GSM. While some women may have mild signs, others may experience severe ones that last for an extended period.

Nevertheless, vaginal dryness, itchiness, and irritation when urinating are the main signs. Some women may have mild urinary irritation, while others may suffer from incontinence. Don’t compare symptoms with another person; each body reacts differently due to environmental and hormone changes.

  1. There’s No Treatment for GSM

The last myth we debunk is that there’s no treatment for GSM. Treatment options are there, although most reduce the discomfort, considering the chronic condition. Here are the leading solutions your doctor may recommend when suffering from GSM.

  • Over-the-counter creams and lubricants to reduce discomfort during intercourse
  • Vaginal estrogen therapy to increase estrogen levels in the vaginal area
  • Vaginal dilation therapy to help stretch the vagina muscles and reduces discomfort during sex
  • Pelvic floor muscles to strengthen the lower pelvic muscles, which may have become weak in menopause

The ideal treatment you get depends on the severity of the condition and your personal preferences. For instance, you can consider non-hormonal therapy if you are not interested in hormonal ones.

Conclusion

The transition to menopause is natural and may be characterized by unwanted effects and conditions like GSM. However, the condition doesn’t kill your sex life and doesn’t necessarily start at 50 because some people never get it.

Don’t suffer in silence when diagnosed with GSM or let the stigma affect you. Talk about it to your partner and a therapist, and start treatment to maintain a healthy life.

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