Introduction: There is limited research comparing cross-cultural differences in women's experiences of vaginal dryness.
Aim: To examine international differences in the prevalence of vaginal dryness, the degree to which it is experienced as problematic or bothersome, the use of lubricants to alleviate it, and women's discussion of this problem with physicians.
Main outcome measures: Questionnaire measuring the level of vaginal dryness and degree to which it is perceived as bothersome.
Methods: The Global Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Practices was administered to 6,725 women from 11 countries: UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Thailand.
Results: Prevalence of self-reported vaginal dryness varied from a minimum of 5.8% in Italy to a maximum of 19.7% in Brazil. The proportion of women with self-reported vaginal dryness who found it very bothersome varied as well (e.g., 5.6% UK, 26.4% Germany). Pain during intercourse ranged from a reported low of 3.6% in Australia to 18.6% in Brazil. Older women (50-65 years) as compared with younger women (18-34 years) reported significantly more vaginal dryness in the UK, Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and Thailand (P values <0.02). The majority of women under 50 attributed vaginal dryness to inadequate sexual arousal while women over 50 believed it was because of aging or menopause. Cross-culturally, women differed substantially in the likelihood of discussing their sexual life/concerns with a physician.
Conclusion: Women from different countries differ substantially in their experiences, concerns, and reports of vaginal dryness/sexual pain, as well as their familiarity with personal lubricants as a treatment. Researchers should assess the prevalence and degree of the bother of vaginal dryness in order to make international comparisons of the burden of this condition.