BACKGROUND: Vulvovaginal symptoms, which include dryness, irritation, and pain with intercourse, are common among postmenopausal women and are associated with impaired sexual functioning and quality of life. Previous assessment of treatment strategies for these symptoms has been limited by a lack of sensitive patient-centered outcome measures that assess symptom impact on functional and quality-of-life domains.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to (1) examine change in the impact of postmenopausal vulvovaginal symptoms on multiple aspects of well-being and functioning in relation to vaginal estradiol and moisturizer treatment and (2) guide meaningful interpretation of scores on a structured-item questionnaire measure of condition-specific impact.
STUDY DESIGN: Data were drawn from postmenopausal women who were enrolled in the Menopause Strategies: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health Vaginal Health Trial (a 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial of treatment for vulvovaginal symptoms) who were assigned to vaginal 10-μg estradiol tablet plus placebo gel (n=98), vaginal moisturizer plus placebo tablet (n=97), or dual placebo (n=94). At baseline and 12-week follow up, participants completed the Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging questionnaire to assess the impact of vaginal symptoms on 4 domains (activities of daily living, emotional well-being, sexual functioning, and body image), each on a 0-4 point scale. Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging sensitivity to change was assessed by the examination of the associations between change in Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging domain scores and vulvovaginal symptom severity from baseline to 12 weeks with analysis of covariance. Within-woman and between-group minimal clinically important improvement was assessed with the use of an anchor-based approach that relates change in Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging domain scores with self-reported benefit from treatment.
RESULTS: Participants in all treatment arms (n=289) demonstrated reduced impact of vulvovaginal symptoms on all domains of well-being and functioning as assessed by Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging at 12-week follow up, with no significant differences in improvement between women who were assigned to either estradiol tablet or vaginal moisturizer compared with placebo. For all Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging domains, mean impact scores were reduced when participants reported symptom improvement (-0.3 to -0.8 point change in Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging scores for <2-point symptom severity change vs -0.4 to -1.6 point change in Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging scores for 2+ point symptom severity change; all P<.001). Minimal clinically important change in Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging domain scale scores, which are anchored to self-reported meaningful benefit from treatment at 12 weeks, ranged from -0.4 to -1.3 (within-woman) and -0.2 to -0.7 (between-group). Observed change and minimal clinically important difference were largest for the sexual functioning domain.
CONCLUSION: The impact of vulvovaginal symptoms on day-to-day activities, sexual function, emotional well-being, and body image may be improved with low-dose vaginal estradiol, moisturizer, or topical placebo. The Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging questionnaire demonstrates sensitivity to change with treatment of vulvovaginal symptoms, particularly Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging scales that focus on symptom impact on sexual functioning and body image. Minimal clinically important improvement in the impact of vulvovaginal symptoms as measured by the Day-to-Day Impact of Vaginal Aging can be defined with the use of these measures.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging: R01 AG048209, the San Francisco VA Health Care System and the University of California, San Francisco, and in part by Career Development Award Number IK2 HX002402 from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services R&D Service (C.J.G.). A.J.H. has received research grants from Pfizer Inc and Astellas Pharma through the University of California San Francisco to conduct research unrelated to this manuscript; C.M. is a consultant for Scynexis Inc and receives research funding from Merck; S.D.R. receives grant support from Bayer Pharmaceuticals; A.L. has served on a scientific advisory board for Sermonix, Inc. All other authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
- body image
- emotional well-being
- quality of life
- sexual functioning
- vaginal estradiol
- vaginal moisturizer
- vulvovaginal symptom
- Double-Blind Method
- Middle Aged
- Symptom Assessment
- Patient Outcome Assessment
- Estradiol/administration & dosage
- Quality of Life
- Vaginal Diseases/diagnosis
- Diagnostic Self Evaluation
- Estrogens/administration & dosage
- Vulvar Diseases/diagnosis
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
- Randomized Controlled Trial
- Multicenter Study
- Journal Article
- Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural