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Local oestrogen useful for atrophic vaginitis

Low dose oestrogen in vaginal tablets can ease symptoms of vaginal discomfort due to atrophic vaginitis that comes with menopause.

Local oestrogen useful for atrophic vaginitis

Low dose oestrogen in vaginal tablets can ease symptoms of vaginal discomfort due to atrophic vaginitis that comes with menopause. The decline in oestrogen levels during menopause is often seen as resulting in the gradual thinning in the tissue of the vagina. This can lead to inflammation known as atrophic vaginitis, which causes symptoms such as dryness, irritation and pain during sex. To correct this and other problems related with menopause, many women opt for oral oestrogen replacement therapy. But along with its benefits, this therapy is also known to pose health risks. As an alternative to this therapy, oestrogen-containing tablets that can be inserted directly into the vagina are increasingly getting accepted. These tablets are said to improve symptoms of vaginal dryness, irritation and discomfort. To assess the efficacy of vaginal tablets containing low dose oestrogen (either 10 or 25 micrograms of estradiol), American researchers randomly assigned 230 postmenopausal women at various medical centres to use the higher- or lower-dose oestrogen tablet or a placebo (inactive) tablet twice a week for 12 weeks. Efficacy of treatment was measured through scores of three vaginal symptoms and grading of vaginal health. After that, all study participants were given the option of continuing on the higher oestrogen dose for a year. The results showed that in the first phase of the study, both oestrogen doses improved symptoms of vaginal dryness, irritation and discomfort. The benefits tended to be greater, however, with the higher dose. In women who continued with the therapy, the overall improvements were still apparent after one year. There were no serious side effects during the year-long follow-up. Side effects possibly related to the oestrogen treatment included headache, back pain and abdominal pain, which have been seen in other studies. This study shows that low-dose vaginal oestrogen tablets can safely ease symptoms of atrophic vaginitis over the long term.
Obstetrics & Gynecology,
January 2008
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