The DiVA Circle Ignites the Vagina Dialogue

The DiVA Circle (l-r): Dr. Marla Shapiro, Dr. Vivien Brown, Maureen McGrath, Valerie Gibson
The DiVA Circle (l-r): Dr. Marla Shapiro, Dr. Vivien Brown, Maureen McGrath, Valerie Gibson

The Dedicated Influencers on Vaginal Atrophy (DiVA) Circle are Canada’s top experts on all things sexual intimacy, relationships, confidence and women’s health. On June 5th, these experts spoke at the DiVA Dialogue event, which sparked the conversation around menopause and provided women with the information and tools to start talking about all symptoms of menopause.

DiVA Circle:
– Dr. Marla Shapiro, CTV News Medical Consultant, Associate Professor, University of Toronto and certified menopause expert,
– Dr. Vivien Brown, Vice President of MEDISYS Health Group, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto and certified menopause expert,
– Maureen McGrath, RN, Leading sexual health expert and host of CKNW Sunday Night Sex Show,
– Valerie Gibson, Relationship guru, originator of the “cougar” movement and author of The Later Dater.

Here is The DiVA Circle Checklist on opening the dialogue on those menopause symptoms that women just don’t talk about:

1. Knowledge is Power
Like many women, you may experience hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. You also may experience changes in your vaginal health – burning, dryness, itching, painful intercourse, urgency with urination, urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections – all of which are symptoms of vaginal atrophy (VA). Affecting approximately 45% of postmenopausal women, VA is a common, treatable condition of menopause where the vaginal walls become thin, fragile and inflamed due to a reduction of estrogen and, if left untreated, it may get worse over time. It is therefore important to know that there are solutions, and it all begins with getting the conversation started.

2. Speak to Your Doctor
You don’t have to suffer in silence. Be your own health advocate and speak to your doctor about all the signs and symptoms of menopause you may be experiencing. According to a study, nearly one-third of Canadian respondents who suffered from VA waited more than a year before seeing a healthcare professional and over half experienced symptoms for three years or longer. The good news is that there are effective treatments available for VA.

3. Talk to Your Partner
While it’s commonplace to talk about erectile dysfunction (ED), women’s health issues are less likely to be discussed. Results from a survey show that if a woman’s partner was suffering from ED, three out of four women would talk about it with their partner, and yet VA is still not talked about – almost 60% of women who experience VA avoid intimacy due to its symptoms. Do not let the symptoms of menopause, which can be discussed with your partner, get in the way of your relationship. Find a comfortable way to approach the subject with your partner, and start talking VA. Find out more at

4. Talk with Other Women
Talking about the symptoms of menopause with other women can also be beneficial because they may have experienced similar situations that you can relate to. According to a study, many women think that VA has a negative impact on their self-esteem and will limit their comfort of doing what they want to do. Together, you can help each other regain confidence and enjoy this time of your life. Remember – menopause doesn’t have to get in the way of enjoying life. Having an open discussion with other women, your partner and your healthcare practitioner can help you feel good inside and out.