New study demonstrates women's willingness to use vaginal estrogen despite fears of hormones; justifies use of local estrogen in addition to systemic hormone therapy.
Post-menopausal women who suffer from painful intercourse and vaginal dryness are more likely to use vaginal estrogen (VE) regardless of whether they use any other type of hormone therapy, says a study.
Moreover, women who do not use systemic hormone therapy but who use VE, score significantly higher on the sexual quality of life scale than women not using VE.
"We know that estrogens play a key role in maintaining vaginal health," said Wulf Utian, founder and executive director of the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) that published the study.
Not only do they assist with lubrication, but some studies also show them to be effective in preventing urinary tract infections.
"That is why women need to have more estrogen options and be educated on their benefits and potential risks," Utian noted.
The purpose of the study was to determine if VE still represents a viable solution for a subset of women with urogenital problems.
Based on the responses from the 310 women, it appears that VE offers a number of benefits without creating additional medical concerns.
The most common urogenital symptom associated with menopause is dryness, followed by irritation or itching, discharge and dysuria.
These symptoms are the result of vulvovaginal atrophy (also known as a thinning of the vaginal wall) that occurs with the absence of estrogen.
Although the authors pointed out to decreased health risks with using VE versus systemic hormones, they do emphasise that there has been a lack of long-term studies documenting overall health risks of using local estrogen.