Prescription Hormone Therapy

When menopause changes vaginal tissue, women can suffer a number of symptoms, including dryness, itching, burning, and painful sex. Topical vaginal hormone therapies are medications used to treat menopausal changes in vaginal tissues. Vaginal estrogen therapies provide estrogen directly to vaginal tissues. Unlike over-the-counter lubricants and moisturizers for use just prior to intercourse, topical hormone therapies restore blood flow, improving thickness and elasticity of the vaginal walls over time.

Oral prescription hormone therapy is another option that can help relieve vaginal dryness, itching, burning, and painful sex in women who are also experiencing hot flashes, or who may also need to slow or prevent bone loss that can lead to postmenopausal osteoporosis. The hormones in oral hormone therapies help supplement your body’s own hormones. If only treating vaginal changes due to menopause, topical vaginal therapies should be considered.

Hormone therapy is used at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest amount of time consistent with a woman’s treatment goals and her individual risks. No two women are the same. Individual factors that need to be considered in each case include the woman’s overall health and quality-of-life priorities as well as her personal risk factors, such as her risk of blood clots, heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer. Vaginal hormone therapies are available in a variety of formulations and treatment options. You and your healthcare professional should discuss whether prescription hormone therapy is right for you. 

Prescription Hormone Therapy For Vaginal Changes Including Painful Sex

  • Treats vaginal dryness, itching, burning, and painful sex due to menopause
  • Unlike over-the-counter lubricants and moisturizers for use just prior to intercourse, prescription hormone therapies restore blood flow, improving thickness and elasticity of the vaginal walls over time
  • Available in a range of dosage strengths so the lowest, most effective dosage for the shortest duration can be determined
  • Available in different formulations including pill, cream, and vaginal ring

Potential Risks

  • Medications that contain estrogens may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and blood clots, as well as breast and endometrial cancer
  • Common side effects may include headache, irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting (in women with a uterus), breast pain, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, and hair loss
  • Less common but serious side effects include breast cancer, uterine cancer (in women with a uterus), stroke, heart attack, blood clots, dementia, gallbladder disease, and ovarian cancer
  • Women should not take estrogens if they:
    • — Think they are pregnant
    • — Have unusual vaginal bleeding
    • — Have or have had certain cancers
    • — Have had a stroke or heart attack in the past year
    • — Have or have had blood clots
    • — Have liver problems or liver disease 

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