Estrogen: the primary female sex hormone, crucial for vaginal health, good moods, restful sleep and essentially every woman’s best friend. Estrogen manages the microbiome of the vagina and keeps the skin elastic, which is especially important for sexual intercourse. But the erratic decline in estrogen levels as we go through perimenopause can lead to a wide range of symptoms including headaches, depression, increased urinary tract infections, vaginal dryness and even burning or pain during intercourse. While menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats may require higher doses of estrogen therapy, milder symptoms may be effectively alleviated with the use of a topical estrogen cream.
Wondering if an estrogen cream might be the right option for you? Get familiar with some of the basics so you can have an informed conversation with your doctor, integrative medical practitioner or naturopath.
How Does Estrogen Cream Work?
Estrogen creams have proven effective at helping postmenopausal women reclaim their quality of life. Women naturally produce their own estrogen during their reproductive years, and the tissues lining the vagina and lower part of the urethra are very sensitive to low doses of estrogen. When an estrogen cream is applied directly, it has the ability to address vaginal atrophy (aka gradual decline) faster than hormone pills, bypassing the whole digestion process, while also minimizing any possible side effects on the rest of the body. Low-dose estrogen has been shown to be very effective against atrophy-related pain during sex, with up to 93% of women reporting significant improvement, and 57% to 75% reporting that their sexual comfort was restored.
When considering topical estrogen cream, it is important to discuss the benefits versus the risks with your health care practitioner, especially if you have had breast cancer in the past. Most forms of topical estrogen are associated with minimal side effects; however, individual responses to estrogen cream may vary. Working closely with your medical practitioner and pharmacist can help minimize side effects by ensuring the correct dose is used at all times.
Estrogen Cream Side Effects may include….
● Breast tenderness
● Weight changes
In some rare cases, more significant side effects may occur and should immediately be addressed by a professional. These include changes in mental health, breast lumps, unusual vaginal bleeding, among other concerns. It is important to discuss all possible side effects with your health care practitioner before committing to a hormone treatment plan.
Why Is Bioidentical Estrogen Cream Better?
Bioidentical estrogen is superior and safer than synthetic hormones because is derived from plants and has a molecular structure that is similar to the hormones your body naturally secretes.
Ehab Mekhail, pharmacist and owner of People’s Choice Compounding Pharmacy in Richmond Hill, explains, “We use a custom dosage of natural, bioidentical estrogen in the creams and medications we make. Popular commercially available estrogen creams often use synthetic or estrogen derived from pregnant mares. However, recent research supports the use of bioidentical hormones as safer.”
Can You Buy Estrogen Cream In Canada Without A Prescription?
Short answer – no. Your hormones are not something to mess around with, which is why hormone creams are regulated by Health Canada for quality control and correct dosing. Because we are all unique and your needs aren’t the same as your neighbours’, estrogen therapy must be properly customized to each individual. It is important to have your hormonal status tested and regularly monitored as hormone levels fluctuate over time. That way you can ensure you are receiving the proper dosage. The professional guidance of your clinician eliminates any potentially harmful guesswork, while promising more successful results.
“Our goal is always to optimize your estrogen levels and bring your hormones into balance. Working closely with your doctor is fundamental to achieving that,” says Ehab Mekhail. “Our compounding pharmacists are happy to facilitate communication with your doctor to ensure you receive the very best pharmaceutical care and a custom dosage that is safe and effective at every step of your treatment.”
How Do I know If Estrogen Cream Is Right For Me?
If you suffer from vaginal dryness or irritation, or other symptoms of early menopause, begin by having your hormones tested to determine if low estrogen levels are indeed the issue. If that is the case, working in tandem with your doctor and pharmacist, a low dosage estrogen treatment can be prescribed to bring you back to your best.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you find balance and reclaim your quality of life.