The Women's EMPOWER Survey: Women's Knowledge and Awareness of Treatment Options for Vulvar and Vaginal Atrophy Remains Inadequate

J Sex Med. 2017 Mar;14(3):425-433. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.01.011. Epub 2017 Feb 12.


Introduction: Postmenopausal women's knowledge about vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA) and available treatment options has historically been inadequate. Recent direct-to-consumer marketing and educational efforts would have been expected to increase awareness and treatment options.

Aim: To compare results of the Women's EMPOWER survey with other available VVA surveys to assess progress in women's understanding and approaches to treatment of VVA.

Methods: The Women's EMPOWER survey, an internet-based survey of US women with VVA symptoms, assessed women's awareness of VVA and their behaviors and attitudes associated with symptom treatment.

Main outcome measures: These survey results were compared with previously published results of the Revealing Vaginal Effects at Mid-Life (REVEAL), Women's Voices in Menopause (WVM), Vaginal Health: Insight, Views, & Attitudes (VIVA), Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy's Impact on Sex and Relationship (CLOSER), and Real Women's Views of Treatment Options for Menopausal Vaginal Changes (REVIVE) surveys.

Results: Results of the Women's EMPOWER survey were consistent with those of past VVA surveys and showed that postmenopausal women generally failed to recognize VVA and its chronic, progressive process and that they were reluctant to discuss vaginal or sexual symptoms with their health care professionals (HCPs). However, women indicated a strong desire for accurate medical information about VVA from their health care professionals and a willingness to learn if HCPs would initiate the conversation. Most women believed that vaginal symptoms are a normal part of aging and they just need to cope with the symptoms. In the United States, women were most concerned with safety-related issues, including increased risk of breast cancer, side effects, and systemic absorption.

Conclusion: The Women's EMPOWER survey demonstrates and reinforces that even with multimedia marketing and educational strategies in the years after other major VVA surveys, minimal progress has been made toward increasing women's awareness of, knowledge about, or understanding of VVA. Based on these data, a focus on initiating discussions and education with postmenopausal women so that they better comprehend VVA as a chronic progressive medical condition (not just aging), the symptoms associated with VVA, and the benefit-risk profile regarding treatment options is warranted. Krychman M, Graham S, Bernick B, et al. The Women's EMPOWER Survey: Women's Knowledge and Awareness of Treatment Options for Vulvar and Vaginal Atrophy Remains Inadequate. J Sex Med 2017;14:425-433.

Keywords: Attitudes; Knowledge; Menopause; Review; Survey; Vulvar and Vaginal Atrophy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dyspareunia / pathology
  • Dyspareunia / therapy*
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Postmenopause*
  • United States
  • Vulva / pathology*
  • Vulvar Diseases / pathology
  • Vulvar Diseases / therapy*
  • Women's Health