Happy World Menopause Day! October 18th is the day that the International Menopause Society (), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (), has designated to focus on menopause, from hot flashes to heart health, and all things menopausal. The IMS is the first menopause society in the world, founded in 1978 with the mission of addressing gender-based and menopause-based issues, which, as it states on their website, "until then had not been regarded as important."
World Menopause Day has actually been around since 1984, but it hasn't exactly attracted a lot of media attention. But from Australia to Zimbabwe, October 18th marks the time to turn the lens specifically on menopause, to increase awareness and educate women – many of whom don't have easy access to information or are too ashamed to seek help. Though menopause is less and less of a taboo subject here in the states, the same isn't true all over the globe. Take a peek at the results of a recent international VIVA (vaginal health: insights, views & attitudes) of 3500 women. According to the IMS, half of postmenopausal women will be affected by vaginal atrophy (VA), which is a chronic condition, characterized by vaginal dryness, itchiness, and pain during intercourse. If left untreated, VA can lead to incontinence and long-term problems. According to the survey, half of women would not speak to their doctors about the issue; only 2 in 5 would talk to their partners or spouses about it; and here's food for thought – 2/3 of the women said their mothers never spoke to them at all about menopause.
Here's what Dr. Rossella Nappi, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pavia in Italy, said in the press release: " It is so sad that women are suffering in silence with this condition; many believe that VA is just an inevitable part of menopause and that they have no choice but to live with the consequences. However, this is not the case," and she urges doctors to routinely initiate a dialogue with their postmenopausal patients about the subject. I'm not sure we fare any better when talking to doctors about this subject — IMS estimates about 25% of women in the western world seek treatment and the percentage declines in other parts of the world — but let's hope today ushers in a new openness about menopause in general and symptoms in particular all over the world.
After all, according to the WHO, there will be more than 1 billion women over the age of 50 by 2025. Now that's too many to speak just in one day. Don't you think?