Estrogen medicines safe for vaginal dryness?


Question from Hirokow: My family doctor prescribed estradiol (Vagifem) for vaginal dryness. I consulted with my oncologist, and his recommendation was to use Estring. My question is whether it is safe to use estrogen-containing medicines such as estradiol or Estring against recurrence of breast cancer. If so, which one is safer? If not, what other options are available to me and other breast cancer patients/survivors?
Answers - Kara Nakisbendi Estradiol is a type of estrogen and it's one of the estrogens that women's bodies naturally make. As far as vaginal preparation, there is the Estring, which is a ring that has estradiol in it and secretes a small amount for up to 12 weeks with the ring in place. There are also vaginal tablets called Vagifem that have 25 micrograms of estradiol that you place initially every night in the vagina for two weeks, then twice weekly. The concern with some doctors is that the estrogen will be absorbed. There's probably a small amount of absorption initially because the tissue is so thin, but as the cells plump up with estrogen the connections between the cells get tighter and there's very little absorption. They've looked at blood levels and haven't found them to be significant. There are a few studies in women who have had breast cancers but have not seen increased recurrences or new primary breast cancer.

On Wednesday, February 20, 2008, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Sex, Intimacy, and Breast Cancer. Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. and Kara Nakisbendi, M.D. answered your questions about sexual side effects of breast cancer and breast cancer treatment, and what you can do about them.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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