“Vaginal oestrogen is a hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
medicine that contains the hormone oestrogen.
It’s used to treat the vaginal dryness and irritation…”.1

Umbrella

What may the Hormone Therapy and Vaginal Estrogen Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
  • Hormone Therapy (HT)
  • Local Low-Dose Estrogen Therapy
  • Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT)
  • Topical Vaginal Estrogens
  • Vaginal Estrogen/Oestrogen

Position Statement

When may vaginal estrogen be recommended?

On page one in The 2022 Hormone Therapy Position Statement of The North American Menopause Society: Abstract, published July 2022, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) note:

“For bothersome genitourinary syndrome of menopause symptoms not relieved with over-the-counter therapies in women without indications for use of systemic hormone therapy, low-dose vaginal estrogen therapy or other therapies (eg, vaginal dehydroepiandrosterone or oral ospemifene) are recommended”.2

Vaginal Estrogen

What is vaginal estrogen?

DotS the definition of vaginal oestrogen may vary. In Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Vaginal Oestrogen: About Vaginal Oestrogen the NHS definition is:

“Vaginal oestrogen is a hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medicine that contains the hormone oestrogen. It’s used to treat the vaginal dryness and irritation that can happen during the menopause”.3

On page one in Deciding About Hormone Therapy the NAMS explain:

“If you are bothered only by vaginal dryness, you can use very low doses of estrogen placed directly into the vagina. These low doses generally do not raise blood estrogen levels above postmenopause levels and do not treat hot flashes. You do not need to take a progestogen when using only low doses of estrogen in the vagina. (The MenoNoteVaginal Dryness” covers this topic in detail)”.4

In The 2023 Practitioner’s Toolkit for Managing Menopause: Management – Effectiveness: Local Treatment of Urogenital Atrophy, published online 30 October 2023, the authors note:

“Urogenital symptoms due to estrogen insufficiency are under-recognized and under-treated. These symptoms can be effectively treated with an array of local therapies including intravaginal estrogen preparations or DHEA (prasterone) and intravaginal moisturizers. Concurrent progestogen therapy is not required. Many women require local therapy, in addition to systemic MHT, to relieve urogenital symptoms. It is important patients understand that treatment needs to be ongoing and is not simply a short course of therapy”.5

Cream, Tablet, Pessary or Ring

How can estrogen be applied directly to the vagina?

In Vulvovaginal Atrophy: Topical Vaginal Estrogens the European Menopause and Andropause Society explain:

Hormone Therapy and Vaginal Estrogen

  • “These may contain estradiol, estriol, promestriene and conjugated estrogens
  • Preparations include tablets, rings, capsules, creams, gels and ovules
  • Most are low-dose and do not change systemic estrogen levels
  • There is no need to add progestogen (for endometrial protection) when low-dose topical estrogens are used
  • They can be used alone or with systemic menopausal hormone therapy
  • They may also improve urinary incontinence and prevent recurrent urinary tract infections
  • They do not increase the risk of endometrial cancer, breast cancer, venous thromboembolism or cardiovascular disease”.6

Duration

How long can vaginal estrogen be used for?

On page three and four in the Joint Position Statement By the British Menopause Society, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Society for Endocrinology on Best Practice Recommendations for the Care of Women Experiencing the Menopause, first published online 10 June 2022, one of the recommendations is:

Hormone Therapy and Vaginal Estrogen

  • “Low-dose and ultra-low dose vaginal oestrogen preparations can be taken by perimenopausal and menopausal women experiencing genitourinary symptoms and continued for as long as required. All vaginal oestrogen preparations have been shown to be effective in this context and there is no requirement to combine vaginal oestrogens with systemic progestogen treatment for endometrial protection, as low-dose and ultra-low dose vaginal oestrogen preparations do not result in significant systemic absorption or endometrial hyperplasia”.7

Compounded Vaginal Estrogen and Testosterone

Are compounded vaginal estrogen and testosterone recommended?

On page two in Vaginal Dryness, published November 2022, the NAMS include:

“Notes: Compounded vaginal estrogen and testosterone are not FDA regulated or recommended for treatment of GSM in most cases”.8

What is FDA?

FDA in this context, is an abbreviation for the (United States) Food and Drug Administration.

What is GSM?

GSM in this context, is an abbreviation for the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause.

Health Care Provider

What if my vaginal symptoms do not improve with treatment?

On page two in Vaginal Dryness, published November 2022, the NAMS explain:

Notes: Vaginal and vulvar symptoms not related to menopause include yeast infections, allergic reactions, and certain skin conditions, so consult your healthcare professional if symptoms do not improve with treatment”.9

Health Topics A-Z

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Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Vaginal Oestrogen: About Vaginal Oestrogen. Page Last Reviewed: 27 January 2023. NHS https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/hormone-replacement-therapy-hrt/vaginal-oestrogen/about-vaginal-oestrogen/ Accessed: 11 April 2024
  2. The 2022 Hormone Therapy Position Statement of The North American Menopause Society: Abstract. 2022:1 North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/professional/nams-2022-hormone-therapy-position-statement.pdf Accessed: 11 April 2024
  3. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Vaginal Oestrogen: About Vaginal Oestrogen. Page Last Reviewed: 27 January 2023. NHS https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/hormone-replacement-therapy-hrt/vaginal-oestrogen/about-vaginal-oestrogen/ Accessed: 11 April 2024
  4. Deciding About Hormone Therapy Use. 2022:1. North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/professional/menonote-deciding-about-ht-2022.pdf Accessed: 11 April 2024
  5. Davis, S. R., Taylor, S., Hemachandra, C., Magraith, K., Ebeling, P. R., Jane, F., and Islam, R. M. The 2023 Practitioner’s Toolkit for Managing Menopause: Management – Effectiveness: Local Treatment of Urogenital Atrophy. First Published Online 30 October 2023 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13697137.2023.2258783 Accessed: 11 April 2024
  6. Vulvovaginal Atrophy: Topical Vaginal Estrogens. 2022. European Menopause and Andropause Society https://emas-online.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Vulvovaginal-atrophy.pdf Accessed: 11 April 2024
  7. Hamoda, H., Mukherjee, A., Morris, E., Baldeweg, S. E., Jayasena, C. N., Briggs, P., Moger, S. Joint Position Statement By the British Menopause Society, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Society for Endocrinology on Best Practice Recommendations for the Care of Women Experiencing the Menopause. First Published Online 10 June 2022:3-4. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/20533691221104879 Accessed: 11 April 2024
  8. Vaginal Dryness. 2022:2. https://www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/professional/nams-2022-hormone-therapy-position-statement.pdf Accessed: 11 April 2024
  9. Vaginal Dryness. 2022:2. https://www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/professional/nams-2022-hormone-therapy-position-statement.pdf Accessed: 11 April 2024
Topic Last Updated: 11 April 2024 – Topic Last Reviewed: 11 April 2024

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