What Did We Learn From NAMS 2012?

An Expert Interview With Margery L. Gass, MD, the Executive Director

Margery L. Gass, MD


November 01, 2012

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

In This Article

Editor's Note:
The 23rd Annual Meeting of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) came to a close on October 6, 2012. Medscape had an opportunity to follow up with Margery L. Gass, MD, Executive Director of NAMS, to learn about the outcomes of this year's meeting. Dr. Gass shares the findings presented at a couple of symposiums that generated quite a "buzz" with attendees.

First, Dr. Gass discusses what she learned from a symposium that focused on sexual health and menopause and offers guidance to clinicians who might be uncomfortable with exploring this matter further with their patients. She then talks about the findings from a randomized clinical trial that evaluated the efficacy of 3 nonhormonal therapies for the relief of vasomotor symptoms.

Sex and the Aging Couple

Medscape: A novel topic that was covered at this year's meeting was the reciprocal relationship between female and male sexual dysfunction in the context of a partnered relationship.[1]

What motivated NAMS to decide to include this session in the scientific program of this year's meeting?

Dr. Gass: [NAMS was] motivated to include this program because traditionally we focus on women's sexual problems. Women come to see menopause practitioners at midlife when menopausal issues, including sexual concerns, are beginning to bother them. But we know that the dynamics of a relationship are very important. Any issue for one person will always affect the other. That reality needs to be recognized and discussed. And in many cases, it may be advantageous for the partner of the woman to come to her appointment as well. This symposium had very important information for our clinicians, who often just see the woman.

Medscape: What significant considerations or guidance did the presenters emphasize that clinicians keep in mind when evaluating patients who present with sexual concerns?

Dr. Gass: First of all, we want to get across the point that every clinician should raise the topic of sexual function and sexual concerns. Open the door for the woman to discuss this topic if she wants to because sometimes it's hard for patients to be the one who brings up this topic. They think they may be the only one with the problem; they're embarrassed by it; they think the clinician is not interested or does not have time. So it can be very helpful for the clinician to indicate openness to discussing this topic with the patient. Sometimes the patient may not even respond during that visit, but at least she has heard the message that if something were to happen, that particular clinician is willing to talk, listen, and offer some solutions and suggestions.

It is always important to attempt to sort out the causes of the current problem that may involve a more extensive history: When was the sexual relationship satisfactory? How long ago was that? What was happening in their relationship and in their lives at that time that may have had an effect that led to the current problem? It is also important to talk with the woman alone. If a clinician is not comfortable dealing with the problem, the clinician should make a referral. It is important to have a list of marital and sex therapists in the community.