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From the menopause, some women feel discomfort in the intimate area. Dr. Catherine Solano, a sexologist and andrologist at Cochin Hospital, explains what the signs of this genitourinary syndrome of menopause (or SGUM) are and how to treat it.

SGUM: what is it?

The SGUM or genitourinary syndrome of menopause is a set of symptoms in the intimate area, symptoms related to the fall of estrogen hormones, also at the origin of the cessation of cycles and menstruation.

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From menopause, the tissues of the intimate area receive much less estrogen, which causes them to gradually change. The mucous membrane becomes thinner, more fragile, more sensitive and less well hydrated.

SGUM: what symptoms?

Some signs are genital. It is a tendency to vulvar and vaginal dryness. A woman can then experience discomfort in her intimate area between her labia minora, tingling, burning, itching, irritation of the vulva, hypersensitivity, discomfort or pain during sexual penetration.

Note that this may be a daily discomfort, in which case the woman feels burning or irritation while walking in the street, wiping herself in the toilet, or simply sitting, therefore outside of any contact sexual.

It can also be sexual difficulties with more difficult lubrication, unpleasant sensations in contact with caresses, discomfort or pain, even irritation or small bleeding during penetration.

Some signs are urinary. A woman concerned experiences tingling or burning around the urethra, discomfort or slight burning while urinating (outside the context of a urinary tract infection), a delayed drop after urinating, more frequent urges to urinate, a feeling of urgent urge to urinate (urgency)…

SGUM: who is concerned?

Postmenopausal women can experience this SGUM, and it is estimated that 25-50% are actually affected. Indeed, in other women, the body can continue to manufacture a little estrogen, enough not to feel these disorders.

This SGUM often begins to manifest itself 4 to 5 years after the onset of menopause. However, young women may be affected because they have premature menopause or ovarian failure occurring naturally or following treatment for cancer, in particular breast or gynecological cancer.

SGUM: how is it treated?

The first thing to do is talk to your doctor, describe your symptoms. And several effective treatments are possible:

  • hormone treatment local cream to apply on the vulva and inside the vaginal area 3 times a week. This treatment is not always possible in the event of a history of hormone-dependent cancer.
  • A local treatment based on hydrophilic substances (attracting water) which are also to be used 3 times a week in the evening.
  • A laser treatment or radiofrequency which seems effective, but which is expensive, not supported by Social Security and would not necessarily have yet given all the scientific proof of effectiveness.
  • Smoking should also be avoided, as tobacco accentuates the symptoms of SGUM.

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