Atrophic vaginitis caused by menopause has a new name

Vaginal atrophy – that is, a dry, easily irritated vagina and vulva caused by menopause – has a new name: genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). This designation was made by the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) and the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

     Why the change?
The two organisations believed a review was required of current terminology of genitourinary tract symptoms when they related directly to menopause. This occurred in 2014. The members of these associations decided that genitourinary symptoms of menopause was more accurate, all-encompassing, and more acceptable to patients and the public than vulvovaginal atrophy.

     What does genitourinary symptoms of menopause (GSM) refer to specifically?
GSM is the collection of signs and symptoms associated with a decrease in oestrogen and other sex hormones that cause changes to the labia (minora and majora), clitoris, vestibule, vaginal opening (introitus), vagina, urethra and bladder. GSM can include – but is not limited to – dryness, burning and irritation, lack of lubrication, pain or discomfort, impaired function, and urinary symptoms.

Some signs and symptoms may be experienced, causing bother and without another diagnosis.