What's new in the world of postmenopausal sex?

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Purpose of review

The purpose of this review is to describe new terminology for vulvovaginal atrophy and female sexual dysfunction and to highlight recent findings related to vaginal moisturizers, lubricants and prescription estrogen preparations.

Recent findings

Sexual health is a marker for overall health. A minority (40%) of healthcare providers routinely ask about sexual problems and its impact on quality of life. New terminology by the American Psychiatric Association divides female sexual disorders into three categories: arousal/interest disorder, orgasmic disorder and genital pain and penetration disorder. First-line therapy for genitourinary syndrome of menopause includes over-the-counter vaginal lubricants and moisturizers, followed by topical estrogen formulations. Progesterones are generally not needed when topical low-dose estrogen is prescribed. A systemic selective estrogen receptor modulator, designed specifically for genitourinary menopausal symptoms, is an option for patients who do not tolerate local estrogen.


Female sexual dysfunction is prevalent and causes distress, particularly among women at midlife. Although hypoactive sexual desire disorder may be the most prevalent dysfunction, dyspareunia and pain, particularly related to genitourinary and vulvovaginal atrophy, are also very common. Over-the-counter lubricants and prescription strength estrogen formulations are generally effective and well tolerated.

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