Talking About Vaginal Dryness
Michael Krychman MD
Many women believe that if vaginal dryness was an important medical topic, then their health care provider would initiate the discussion. Patients often remain embarrassed, suffering in silence. We cannot put all the blame on the health care professional since they are sometimes poorly trained and themselves embarrassed talking about sex. Many health care professionals are rushed and have a laundry list of medical and psychological issues to address in the short medical visit.
How do we address the conspiracy of SILENCE? Here are some techniques to help broach the topic with your health care provider.
Put pen to paper. Write down your specific concerns in order of importance and bring this list to your next appointment. You may also want to print the Menopause Symptoms Checklist and bring it to your visit. This checklist may be discretely given to the support staff to jumpstart many conversations.
It may be the medical assistant, nurse, or front office person that you are more comfortable with when it comes to talking about vaginal dryness. You must have the courage to relay your concerns to the health care professional.
Prepare for the visit
You may need to practice and have a dry run through some scenarios in your head. What should I say? How should I say it? What are the correct words that I want to use? Being prepared is half the battle. Practice what you will say in front of a mirror.
During the visit
Maintain professional rapport with your provider. Make eye contact, do not be distracted. Put the phone and the magazine down when they are talking. It’s important to be engaged, to ask questions, and expect answers. Be direct and honest. Be an active participant in your treatment plan. Don’t be rushed. Review your list and make sure you have addressed your agenda for the visit.
A last comment
Don't be afraid to get a second opinion. While there are many health care professionals who are comfortable addressing vaginal dryness and painful intercourse, some may not want to talk about it. The North American Menopause Society is an important resource (www.menopause.org) including the directory search Find A Menopause Practitioner.