With more than half of menopausal women suffering from vaginal dryness and related issues, many are left to wonder “Why use estrogen cream?” having heard of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and its potential side effects.1 While estrogen creams might be effective for symptom relief, they do have certain disadvantages that should be considered before use.
Keep on reading for the answers to the most important questions about why use an estrogen cream, including what it is, how it works, what are the pros and cons of using an estrogen cream, and what alternatives you have for a symptom-free life!
About Estrogen Creams
Estrogen cream is one of the types of estrogen replacement therapy. It contains the hormone estradiol or estrone, which are forms of estrogen.
An estrogen cream is used to relieve vaginal and urinary menopause symptoms. Applied in the vagina, it is absorbed through the vaginal tissues to alleviate local symptoms.
Estrogen cream should not be mistaken for estrogen gel, which is applied topically on other body parts to then be absorbed into the bloodstream, thus relieving other perimenopause symptoms.
How Does Estrogen Cream Work?
As all forms of HRT, estrogen cream replaces the missing hormones in the body, in this case estrogen. By doing so, it lessens the hormonal imbalance and relieves symptoms low estrogen levels can trigger.
Because it is applied in the vagina, using estrogen cream can relieve local symptoms, such as vaginal dryness, burning, and itching; dyspareunia; loss of libido; vulvar atrophy; vaginal inflammation; or urinary urgency and irritation. They also help regulate vaginal fluids for optimal health.2
Pros of Using Estrogen Cream
Using an estrogen cream for up to one year has been shown safe and effective for alleviating vaginal or urinary symptoms of menopause without increasing the risk of endometrial hyperplasia, which is a risk factor for endometrial cancer.3
When used short-term, vaginal estrogen has shown to help lessen vaginal symptoms by increasing blood flow to the area, boosting lubrication, and strengthening vaginal tissue.
Arguably, the main advantage of estrogen creams is that they can be applied directly to a woman's problem area. As such, their effects are localized and do not affect blood hormone levels.4
Cons of Using Estrogen Cream
Because most clinical trials focus on systemic HRT rather than local vaginal treatments, there is little scientific research on locally administered estrogen creams' safety beyond one year treatment.
As such, it is not clear whether using an estrogen cream long-term potentially exposes a woman to the same side effects as other HRT, including an increased likelihood of developing breast or ovarian cancer; stroke; and heart attacks.3
Are There Healthier Alternatives to Estrogen Creams?
Generally, for women suffering from mild to moderate vaginal symptoms of menopause, the first line of treatment consists of non-hormonal vaginal lubricants and frequent intercourse for proper blood flow and natural lubrication.
Another safe and natural alternative to estrogen creams and other forms of HRT are herbal supplements, which come in two types:
Phytoestrogenic supplements, like black cohosh, offer the body plant-based estrogen to fill in the hormonal gap. Since their long-term use can lead to dependency and worsen the imbalance, they are best taken temporarily.
Hormone-balancing supplements, like Macafem, nourish the endocrine glands to optimize their own hormone production for symptom relief. Because they do not introduce outside hormones, they are safe to use long-term.
While many women perceive bioidentical hormones a healthier alternative to HRT, the truth is that they are still processed in the laboratory, contain exogenous hormones, and carry the risk of similar side effects.
Because every woman's menopausal transition is different, the treatment she will choose will vary as well. Nevertheless, middle-aged women are strongly encouraged to give natural treatment methods a try first before relying on pharmaceutical options. Click on the following link to find the best hormonal imbalance treatments and help your body come out of this natural life phase strong, empowered, and healthy!
- Climacteric. (2010). Recommendations for the management of postmenopausal vaginal atrophy. Retrieved December 9, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20883118/
- Medline Plus. (2018). Estrogen Vaginal. Retrieved December 9, 2019 from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a606005.html
- Menopause. (2013). Management of symptomatic vulvovaginal atrophy: 2013 position statement of the North American Menopause Society. Retrieved December 9, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23985562/
- Harvard Medical School. (2019). Don't ignore vaginal dryness and pain. Retrieved December 9, 2019 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/dont-ignore-vaginal-dryness-and-pain
- Mayo Clinic. (2019). Estrogen (Vaginal Route). Retrieved December 9, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/estrogen-vaginal-route/proper-use/drg-20069459
- International Journal of Women's Health. (2014). Reviewing the options for local estrogen treatment of vaginal atrophy. Retrieved December 9, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3958523/