September 02, 2014
1 min read

A medically accurate, de-stigmatizing term developed to discuss issues in postmenopause

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The North American Menopause Society and the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health have developed and endorsed a term to remove stigma around conversations for women in postmenopause — genitourinary syndrome of menopause.

Explained online in Menopause, the creation of genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) follows a consensus conference by the societies, hoping to alleviate discomfort during dialogue about genital, sexual and urinary issues and foster smarter health care decisions, according to a statement released by North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

“The term ‘GSM’ will make discussing the problems so much easier, similar to the way ‘ED’ changed our ability to talk about impotence,” Margery L.S. Gass, MD, NCMP, executive director for NAMS and a member of the conference panel said in a press release.

GSM encompasses signs and symptoms associated with decreased estrogen and other sex steroids that involve changes to the labia majora/minora, clitoris, vestibule/introitus, vagina, urethra and bladder, according to a report by Gass and David J. Portman, MD, of the Columbus Center for Women’s Health Research, in Columbus, Ohio, co-chairs of the Vulvovaginal Atrophy Terminology Consensus Conference Panel.

The syndrome could include genital symptoms of dryness, burning and irritation, sexual symptoms of lack of lubrication, discomfort or pain and impaired function, as well as urinary symptoms of urgency, dysuria and recurrent urinary tract infections, according to the report; however, the symptoms could reach beyond this list.

To date, various terms including “atrophic vaginitis” and “vulvovaginal atrophy” have been used but are not medically accurate, stigmatizing and fall short of addressing all symptoms, according to the release.

A tool to help standardize a physical examination to look for changes women experience in postmenopause is also in development, according to the release, which would allow for quicker and more accurate diagnosis.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.