Two in five older women admit that their sex lives are suffering because of a painful symptom of the menopause, figures suggest.
Nearly half of older women surveyed said they suffer from vaginal atrophy, which causes decreased lubrication, itching or discomfort, and 41% admitted that sex was painful because of it.
The authors of the research said there are beneficial effects of oestrogen therapy but British women are 50% less likely to receive treatment compared with their counterparts in Europe and North America.
The data, compiled from information given by 8,000 women, formed part of the Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy's Impact On Sex and Relationships (Closer) study.
"The Closer study offers the first opportunity to examine the real impact that vaginal atrophy is having on the intimate lives of post-menopausal women and their partners," said Dr Heather Currie, associate specialist gynaecologist and honorary secretary of the British Menopause Society.
"Most people have not heard of this condition, but vaginal atrophy is one of the most common symptoms of the menopause, and also the simplest to treat.
"The challenge remains that vaginal health in older women is still a taboo subject, and even doctors find it difficult to talk to their patients about it."