As women grow older, hormones start declining, and without therapy, the symptoms of menopause grow worse. With the loss of estrogen, the vaginal epithelium becomes atrophic and physiological lubrication is reduced. Often, the result is vaginal dryness, irritation, itching, burning, and painful intercourse. All these can lead to decreased libido, creating distress for both the woman and her partner.
Conventional treatment has been estradiol or Premarin cream. Over-the-counter lubricants are also an option, but do not treat the underlying problem. They only serve as a short-term solution by creating a mechanical barrier between the vaginal epithelium and the external environment, thus improving dryness related to sexual activity.
Compounding allows a broader range of choices than merely estrogen creams. The ability to use plant-based estrogens allows the compounding pharmacist to create not only creams, but capsules and suppositories. Some patients prefer to use a capsule because they find creams “messy.” Another option that may help with both vaginal dryness and libido is DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone, which is available in both a cream and capsule form.
Many women suffer silently from vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and low libido, but are not aware of the treatment choices they have. Some women are not comfortable talking about the problem, or wonder if others are dealing with the same difficulties. The fact is, most women at some point do experience at least some of these symptoms, and help is available.