Vaginal estrogens: What is Estriol and how do I use it?
Estriol is a prescription-only cream used to treat symptoms of vaginal dryness caused by a drop in estrogen levels during the perimenopause and menopause.
This can lead to a range of symptoms in and around your vagina, including dryness, itching and pain during sex. It can also make you more susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs). As your bladder and the tube leading from it (known as your urethra) can also be affected by low estrogen, you may also experience symptoms such as urgency and occasional leaks.
How does Estriol work?
Estriol cream contains a type of estrogen called estriol, which is made naturally in your ovaries. By replacing the lost estrogen directly in the area that needs it most, Estriol helps to restore elasticity and lubrication to your vagina and surrounding tissues. This helps to relieve soreness and irritation.
When and how do I use Estriol?
Estriol cream comes in a pack with a clear plastic applicator that you screw onto the neck of the tube. This makes it easy to squeeze the cream into the applicator up to the red ring mark. To dispense the cream, it’s best to lie down, put the applicator into your vagina and slowly push the plunger all the way in.
To start with you should use one applicator of Estriol once per day for three or four weeks, and from then on you use it twice per week, following your healthcare professional’s advice.
It’s best to apply Estriol before going to bed, and the applicator needs to be thoroughly cleaned after each use.
What doses does Estriol come in?
Each applicator dosage contains 0.5mg of estriol.
What are the benefits?
As well as relieving dryness and soreness, Estriol can also be used to treat recurrent UTIs. Your symptoms should improve after about three months of using Estriol. As it is a cream, Estriol can also be applied onto and around the vulva using your fingertips. This can be helpful if you experience external soreness or itching.
Who is Estriol suitable for?
As it is a vaginal estrogen, Estriol can be used alongside other types of HRT, and may also be suitable for those who can’t or don’t want to use HRT.
It’s important to note that Estriol shouldn’t be used alongside barrier methods of contraception such as condoms or a diaphragm. This is because it’s an oil-based formulation which may damage the latex.
Can I expect any side effects?
You may notice some vaginal discharge and there may also be some itching or irritation after applying the cream.