PHILADELPHIA – Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) replaced vulvovaginal atrophy in 2014 as a way to describe the changes to the genital and urinary tracts after menopause, but preliminary research shows it may be missing some symptoms.
In 2015, Amanda Clark, MD, a urogynecologist at the Kaiser Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., and her colleagues surveyed women aged 55 years and older about their vulvar, vaginal, urinary, and sexual symptoms within 2 weeks of a well-woman visit to their primary care physician or gynecologist in the Kaiser system. In total, 1,533 provided valid data.
The researchers then used factor analysis to see if the symptoms matched up with GSM. If GSM is a true syndrome and only a single syndrome, then all of the factors would fit together in a one-factor model, Dr. Clark explained at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society. Instead, the researchers found that a three-factor model – with vulvovaginal symptoms of irritation and pain in one group, urinary symptoms in another group, and vaginal discharge and odor in a third group – fit best with the symptoms reported in their survey.
“This work is very preliminary and needs to be replicated in many other samples and looked at carefully,” Dr. Clark said in an. “But what we think is that genitourinary syndrome of menopause is a starting point.”
The study was funded by a Pfizer Independent Grant for Learning & Change and the North American Menopause Society. Dr. Clark reported having no relevant financial disclosures.