There are a few things in life that we have to live with. As a woman, menopause is one of life’s rites of passage. As our bodies change and hormones fluctuate, some associated symptoms could surprise us.
We had the opportunity to discuss this topic with Dr. Barb DePree, gynecologist, menopause care specialist, and paid spokesperson for Duchesnay USA, the company that assisted in providing content for this article.
We are thankful to you Dr. DePree, for your time and speaking directly to these issues that bother many women.
LB50: Can you tell our readers about some of the symptoms of menopause?
Menopause is a normal and natural event that all women experience. Menopause is associated with reduced functioning of the ovaries due to aging – lower estrogen and other hormones. When it comes to menopause, most women are prepared for hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, memory problems, mood disturbances, weight gain, and fatigue. However, the two most common bothersome symptoms of menopause are also those less talked about: vaginal dryness and painful intercourse (dyspareunia).
Some women are fortunate to only experience mild symptoms. However, when symptoms are moderate to severe, they can truly affect a woman’s quality of life.
LB50: How can we encourage women to discuss pain during intimacy during routine exams?
Starting the conversation may not always be easy, but it is an important step to finding the right treatment. With as many as 1 in 3 postmenopausal women experiencing pain during intimacy, women need to know that they are not alone. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, especially when there are treatment options available to help with these conditions.
It is also important to know that painful sex due to menopause is a chronic condition. That means that without treatment, it won’t go away and could even get worse. Considering that up to 30 years of a woman’s life may be spent in post-menopause, early treatment for these symptoms is important.
LB50: What are some solutions to dyspareunia?
There are many treatment options available for dyspareunia including creams, rings, inserts, and an oral pill. It’s important for women to address their concerns and preferences with their healthcare provider. It’s the goal of their healthcare provider that they are treated successfully in order to achieve the best possible outcome.
One of the options is Osphena® (ospemifene). Osphena® is the only FDA-approved once-daily non-hormonal oral pill indicated to treat moderate to severe painful intercourse and/or vaginal dryness due to menopause. It is a tablet taken once a day with a full meal. No need to disrupt your day or intimate moments. It’s important for women over 50 to talk to their doctor about whether this once daily non-hormonal oral pill is right for them.
Please see below for Important Safety Information, including Boxed Warning regarding endometrial cancer and cardiovascular disorders, and full Prescribing Information. Possible side effects include hot flashes, vaginal discharge, muscle spasms, headache, excessive sweating, heavy vaginal bleeding and night sweats.
LB50: Where can women go to learn more and get additional information?
Straight Talk: Sex and the Menopausal Woman, is a video created by Duchesnay USA to educate women about vaginal dryness and painful intercourse due to menopause. The video features Dr. James A. Simon of IntimMedicine Specialists and myself. We talk to and interview two of my patients, who share their personal experiences with moderate to severe dyspareunia.
Women can also learn more at Osphena.com. The website provides information including what the causes of vaginal dryness and dyspareunia are and how Osphena works to treat these symptoms of menopause. Also at Osphena.com, women can request a virtual appointment with a healthcare provider to discuss their symptoms in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. This can help women over 50 feel more comfortable talking about this sensitive subject, especially with COVID-19 restrictions in place.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION INCLUDING BOXED WARNING AND INDICATION
Indication: What is Osphena?
Osphena is a prescription oral pill that treats moderate to severe painful intercourse and/or moderate to severe vaginal dryness, both symptoms of changes in your vagina, due to menopause.
Most Important Information you should know about Osphena
WARNING: ENDOMETRIAL CANCER and CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS
Osphena works like estrogen in the lining of the uterus (endometrium), but can work differently in other parts of the body. Taking estrogen alone or Osphena may increase your chance for getting cancer of the lining of the uterus. Vaginal bleeding after menopause may be a warning sign of cancer of the lining of the uterus. Your healthcare provider should check any unusual vaginal bleeding to find out the cause, so tell him or her right away if this happens while you are using Osphena.
Osphena may increase your chances of having a stroke or blood clots.
You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly about whether you still need treatment with Osphena.
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have unusual vaginal bleeding, changes in vision or speech, sudden new severe headaches, and pains in your chest or legs with or without shortness of breath, weakness and fatigue.
Who should not take OSPHENA?Osphena should not be used if you have unusual vaginal bleeding, have or have had certain types of cancers, have or have had blood clots, had a stroke or heart attack, have severe liver problems, are allergic to Osphena or any of its ingredients, or think you may be pregnant. Tell your healthcare provider if you are going to have surgery or will be on bed rest.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTSSerious but less common side effects can include:
cancer of the lining of the uterus
Less serious, but common side effects include:
hot flushes or flashes
excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
heavy vaginal bleeding (vaginal hemorrhage)
Tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines and supplements you take, as some medicines may affect how Osphena works. Osphena may also affect how other medicines work.
Duchesnay USA encourages you to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Please read Patient Information for Osphena® (ospemifene) tablets, including Boxed Warning in the full Prescribing Information