Just five days ago we wrote about an American journalist’s observations of medicalization of one problem sometimes observed after menopause: Vaginal atrophy.
Today we see that this disease-mongering trend has popped up in Australia as well. This should be no surprise. Such campaigns are usually led by multinational pharmaceutical companies and their advertising and public relations agencies.
What caught our eye was an article on a women’s health foundation website — a foundation that posts a pretty thin excuse for why it won’t tell you its source of funding. Its article on vaginal atrophy uses classic disease-mongering language:
“Ask a woman over the age of 50 about the ‘signs of ag[e]ing’ and she’ll most likely lament about grey hairs, wrinkles and certain body parts having lost their youthful perkiness. What she probably won’t mention is that is that things are ageing “downstairs” too; up to 40% of postmenopausal women show signs of vaginal atrophy.”
The silent epidemic that no one talks about. The huge prevalence estimate — where does that 40 percent figure come from?
Oh, and it can lead to greater problems:
“There is a greater risk of infection due to the increased chance of tears or bleeding with intercourse. Untreated vaginal atrophy can lead to long-term urogenital problems, such as incontinence.”
How much greater risk of infection and how often long-term problems occur, we’re not told. Women may infer that it happens to everyone with vaginal atrophy. The article concludes with more classic marketing language:
• “It’s still a taboo topic.”
• “There’s no need to suffer in silence.”
• “Women are encouraged to see their health care professional.”
And, of course, there’s a prescription drug waiting at the end of the rainbow. If that rainbow hasn’t touched down in your country yet, it will.
*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*