Dyspareunia Related to GSM: Association of Total Vaginal Thickness via Transabdominal Ultrasound

Adrian C. Balica, Alexandria M. Cooper, Mariah K. McKevitt, Katherine Schertz, Daniella Wald-Spielman, Susan Egan, Gloria A. Bachmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: It has previously been suggested in the literature that ultrasound measurement of total vaginal wall thickness (TVT) differs significantly between pre- and postmenopausal women, indicating that it may be a useful and noninvasive objective assessment to correlate the degree of vaginal atrophy to patient-reported symptoms. Aim: The purpose of this cross-sectional pilot study was to determine whether TVT in postmenopausal women, as measured with transabdominal ultrasound, is associated with patient-reported dyspareunia and symptoms related to genitourinary symptomatology. Methods: Postmenopausal women presenting for pelvic ultrasound had TVT and total mucosal thickness (TMT) measured via transabdominal ultrasound. A questionnaire also was administered assessing menopausal status, relevant medical history, and self-report of dyspareunia and other symptoms related to the genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). This questionnaire was derived from the Vulvovaginal Symptom Questionnaire, which has been validated in the literature. Main Outcome Measure: The main outcome measures included the average TVT and TMT for postmenopausal women reporting any symptom of GSM and average TVT and TMT of women reporting no symptoms of GSM. Results: Data from 44 postmenopausal women showed no significant association between transabdominal ultrasound-measured TVT or TMT and patient report of dyspareunia or other genitourinary symptoms. Data were stratified by individual GSM symptoms, sexual symptoms as an aggregate, and individual sexual symptoms. Neither of these subgroups showed a statistically significant difference in TVT or TMT between symptomatic and asymptomatic women. Clinical Implications: Although no statistically significant data were derived from this study, we propose that future studies investigating the longitudinal relationship between TVT and GSM symptomatology may show an association between total vaginal thickness measurement change over time as determined by ultrasound with the presence of patient-reported dyspareunia and other GSM symptoms. Strengths & Limitations: This study is limited by its small sample size as well as the patient population, which was restricted to postmenopausal women with a clinical indication for ultrasound. A major strength of this investigation is that it is the first study to look at the relationship between sexual pain and other GSM symptoms and TVT using transabdominal ultrasound, which is a readily available, non-invasive tool in most clinical settings. Conclusion: Based on the results of this small pilot study, transabdominal pelvic ultrasound cannot be used at this time to objectively quantify the presence of sexual pain or other GSM symptoms; however, future studies should continue to investigate the longitudinal relationship between these 2 variables. Balica AC, Cooper AM, McKevitt MK, et al. Dyspareunia Related to GSM: Association of Total Vaginal Thickness via Transabdominal Ultrasound. J Sex Med 2019; 16:2038–2042.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2038-2042
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


  • Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause
  • Pelvic Ultrasound
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Total Vaginal Thickness
  • Vaginal Atrophy


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