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Are Women With Urogenital Atrophy Symptomatic?

G. Davila, A. Singh, I. Karapanagiotou, S. Woodhouse, K. Huber, S. Zimberg, J. Seiler, S. Kopka
Published 2003 · Medicine

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OBJECTIVE The purpose of this study was to determine the degree of correlation between physical signs of genital atrophy and symptoms that are suggestive of atrophic vaginitis. STUDY DESIGN Female volunteers (n = 135; mean age, 69 years) rated the presence and severity (rating, 0-3) of vaginal atrophy symptoms. The presence and severity of vaginal mucosal changes, which included vaginal pH (0-3), were recorded during a pelvic examination. A vaginal cytologic maturation value was performed. Symptoms, signs, pH, and maturation value were correlated by the Spearman rank test. RESULTS Symptom scores were low (mean, 0.41; range, 0-2.6). Symptoms were only weakly correlated with physical findings (r = 0.14) and not with maturation value (r = 0.06) or age (r = -0.004). There was a moderate correlation between physical examination score and maturation value (r = -0.48). In women > or =65 years old, symptom score and physical examination score were correlated weakly (r = 0.25). Low pH correlated well with high maturation value (r = -0.52). Women who were undergoing estrogen therapy had higher symptoms scores (P =.0007) and maturation values (P =.0002) than women who were not undergoing therapy. CONCLUSION Although urogenital atrophy occurs universally after menopause, most elderly women are minimally symptomatic. Those women on estrogen replacement therapy may be more symptomatic. Symptoms alone should not be used as a guide for the initiation of estrogen therapy.
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