Highlighting Menopause

The International Menopause Society (IMS), in collaboration with the World Health Organization, designated October 18 as World Menopause Day. In observation of the Day, the IMS and the member national societies of CAMS, the Council of Affiliated Menopause Societies, distributed materials and organised activities to inform women about menopause, its management and the impact of eostrogen loss. Since it is not always possible for local societies to arrange activities for this specific day, the IMS has now designated October as World Menopause Month. World Menopause Month is a call to implement policies that support research and treatment in the area of menopausal health.

As the world’s population ages, there will be increasing numbers of women entering menopause and living beyond postmenopause.

The potential symptoms of menopause may have a negative impact on the quality of daily life. Moreover, the consequences of menopause can lead to a host of age-related diseases including heart disease and osteoporosis.

The theme for this years World Menopause Month was ‘Ending the silent suffering – managing vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women’, and to mark World Menopause Day in 2010, the International Menopause Society (IMS) launched new Recommendations for the management of postmenopausal vaginal atrophy, a distressing condition that will affect up to half of women after menopause. This new guidance is essential as, despite the various safe and effective options for therapy, only a minority of women (about 25% in the western world


(South African Menopause Society, October 2010)  


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. However, regardless of whether these scares are justified, local treatment of vaginal atrophy is not associated with any of these risks of systemic HRT. Other reasons for the continued suffering in silence may be cultural and an understandable reluctance to discussing 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 of the possibility of vaginal atrophic symptoms. Vaginal atrophy can be helped by simple lubricants but the best and most logical treatment is to use local estrogen. This is safe and effective and it is doubtful whether there any valid contraindications.

It is hoped that the publicity for this problem around World Menopause Day helped to highlight this major cause of distress and reduced quality of life and will encourage women all over the world and their medical advisers to seek and provide help.

More information is available on the South African Menopause Society (SAMS) web site www.menopause.co.za ,where the World Menopause Day webcast link can be found.

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