It’s estimated that vaginal dryness affects almost half of menopausal women. Yet, countless women suffer in silence never getting the help they need, or falling victim to synthetic hormone treatments that are anything but natural.
While vaginal dryness can occur at any age it’s more common in women who are 45 or older. Symptoms of this common but often unaddressed condition can include painful intercourse, bleeding, burning, itching, and an increased risk of vaginal infections.
When a woman is younger the hormone estrogen naturally helps to keep her vaginal walls healthy by supporting elasticity and thickness. But when estrogen levels drop too low—as a result of aging or for other reasons—a condition called vaginal atrophy can occur. With vaginal atrophy the vaginal walls thin, vaginal lubrication dries up, and intercourse can become very painful. Mainstream medicine treatments may fall short.
Conventional treatment for vaginal dryness usually involves a prescription for vaginal estrogen. This estrogen is used locally inside the vagina. A common choice is a flexible estrogen ring, like Estring for example, that’s placed by a doctor and left in for three months. The ring releases a steady stream of estrogen.
Another conventional treatment is to, a few times a week, have the patient insert an estrogen tablet like Vagifem in the vagina where it dissolves and disperses. And the last mainstream method is vaginal estrogen cream that’s also inserted by the patient a few times a week. Examples of estrogen creams include Estrace and Premarin. I would not recommend Premarin however, since it’s not bio-identical or natural.
Bio-identical hormones are your best bet
While some women can find relief with conventional treatment there’s a much better method for treating vaginal dryness… one that I prescribe to my own patients. It involves using the bio-identical hormone estriol.
There are three main forms of estrogen estrone, estradiol, and estrone. Most forms of conventional hormone replacement use the strongest estrogen known as estradiol. Estriol is a weaker but safer form. This natural form of estrogen can be used systemically (in a pill, skin patch, gel, cream or spray) as well as locally as a vaginal application. Studies have shown that vaginal estriol does not stimulate a buildup of the uterine lining or increase the risk of breast cancer. At a dose of 0.5 mg daily for 14 days and then three times weekly estriol has been shown to effectively relieve the symptoms of vaginal dryness, normalize the flora of the vagina, reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections, and improve urinary incontinence.
Another good hormonal treatment for vaginal atrophy is bioidentical testosterone. Testosterone requires a prescription from a compounding pharmacy and a typical dose is 0.3 to 1 mg used as a vaginal cream several days a week.
In one study, twenty-one postmenopausal breast cancer patients who were on estrogen blocking medication known as aromatase inhibitors were treated with testosterone for a month. The treatment was associated with improved signs and symptoms of vaginal atrophy.1
Used with permission from Dr. Stengler’s Health Revelations (www.healthrevelations.com)