'As long as I have a restroom somewhere […], I am fine': a qualitative study on the perspectives of peri- and postmenopausal women on the impact of the urinary component of the genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM)

BMC Womens Health. 2021 Nov 8;21(1):391. doi: 10.1186/s12905-021-01523-x.


Background: Our aim was to gain insight into the experiences of women suffering from the urinary component of the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) and to understand the impact of urinary complaints as part of GSM on the lives of affected women.

Design: Qualitative study.

Setting: Online, primary care.

Participants and methods: Postmenopausal women aged from 46 to 85 years reporting vaginal and urinary complaints were recruited to participate in either online or face-to-face focus groups to share their experiences with urinary complaints as part of GSM. Transcripts of sessions were analysed using qualitative content analysis.

Results: One online focus group, one face-to-face focus group and one online-interview were conducted, involving 11 women. Five a priori assumed main themes related to the impact of urogenital symptoms were identified: daily life, emotional well-being, sexual functioning, self-concept and body image, and interpersonal relations and communication. Additionally, two further themes associated with GMS as a clinical condition were inductively found: unmet healthcare needs, including expectations of affected women regarding menopausal symptoms and a lack of adequate health education, and aspects on the personal dealing with the complaints, including personal coping strategies and medical treatment.

Conclusions: This study showed that urinary complaints as part of GSM have, similar to vaginal complaints, negative impacts on the daily life, the emotional well-being, the sexual functioning, the self-concept and body impact as well as interpersonal relations and communication of affected women. We further identified several unmet healthcare needs that should trigger improvements in healthcare.

Keywords: Focus group; Genitourinary syndrome of menopause; Impact; Menopause; Qualitative study; Urinary component.

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause
  • Postmenopause*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Toilet Facilities*