About six months before menopause, estrogen levels in the body drop significantly. The most common urogenital symptoms associated with menopause include 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. A new study has revealed that 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.
The study findings suggest that 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. Wulf Utian, founder and executive director of the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) that published the study, said, "We know that estrogens play a key role in maintaining vaginal health. 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."
The purpose of the research 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, the researchers found that VE offers a number of benefits without creating additional medical concerns. Although the researchers pointed out to decreased health risks with using VE versus systemic hormones, they do emphasize that there has been a lack of long-term studies documenting overall health risks of using local estrogen.