When a woman goes through menopause, some of her hormone levels begin to decline. One of these hormones, estrogen, is responsible for many of the bothersome symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and night sweats. But a decline in estrogen also causes another problem for many women: vaginal dryness and painful intercourse.
When lubricants aren’t working
More than half of all menopausal women experience these problems, which can interfere with relationships and sexual desire. The vaginal walls naturally lose moisture and get thinner as estrogen levels decline. Some women find relief with an over-the-counter lubricant or vaginal moisturizer. But for others, these products aren’t enough.
Although menopause hormone therapy or MHT (typically taken as a pill) can also alleviate menopause symptoms, not every woman should take MHT. MHT may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer in some women. These risks need to be weighed against possible benefits before you take MHT.
For these reasons, MHT is typically taken for the shortest amount of time needed, at the lowest dose. But for women whose menopause symptoms are severe and interfering with life, MHT can provide relief. It can also help with bone loss that occurs after menopause. Taking MHT is a decision only you and your gynecologist can make together.
How a vaginal cream can help
A vaginal estrogen cream, on the other hand, delivers the hormones directly to the vaginal wall where it can alleviate dryness and discomfort. When applied topically as instructed, the cream can help thicken the vaginal walls and provide moisture, and research shows that less hormones make their way into the bloodstream.
Because the cream doesn’t make its way throughout the body, it won’t provide relief for hot flashes and night sweats like MHT will. But if your main symptoms are vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse, estrogen cream may be a good option for you. Women who use this cream should follow the dosage and be sure to see their gynecologist regularly for health exams.
Communication is key
Menopause symptoms can interfere with many women’s lives, and should not be ignored. Don’t assume that you have to live with it. It’s important to note that even though MHT has risks, it can be a safe and effective treatment for some women who need it. And vaginal estrogen cream is a good choice for women whose symptoms are mainly limited to vaginal dryness and discomfort.
It’s important to talk with your gynecologist about your symptoms so together, you can find a solution that works for your life.
CarePoint Health Gynecology
With the help of a skilled gynecologist at CarePoint Health, you can make educated decisions about your health to be at your best at any stage of life. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services we provide, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.