Many women are concerned about using estrogen for relief of menopausal symptoms, due to all of the negative press that estrogen has received. But there is a difference in safety and side effect profile based on how the estrogen is used. If your symptoms are mostly related to dryness and painful intercourse (vaginal atrophy) then using local estrogens may bring you relief with little to no side effects. Local estrogens (in ring, pill or cream form) are estrogens that are used in very low doses in the vagina. They work by restoring the vaginal pH, as well as thickening the vaginal epithelium. Because the hormone works locally, absorbed through the vaginal walls, it does not typically increase estrogen levels in the blood. Studies have shown that it does not increase your risk for endometrial cancer. So it can be a safe, effective way to relieve the symptoms of postmenopausal vaginal atrophy.
Cathleen earned her physician assistant degree from Albany Medical School. Prior to that, she earned a B.A. in social sciences from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has been a physician assistant specializing in women’s health issues for more than 20 years. She has worked with gynecologists, infertility specialists and general practitioners. Cathleen also worked at Planned Parenthood for the past 15 years, meeting the obstetrical and gynecological needs of women. Cathleen believes that every woman should be able to work with her healthcare provider to develop the best treatment plan for her.