(BPT) - The beginning of a New Year is often a time to reflect on what's happened over the past year and look ahead to your wishes and expectations for the future. With all of the competing demands of work and family life, a woman's health can be last on the list. Why not start this year by making a commitment to your health? One first step can be to schedule your routine annual checkups with your primary healthcare provider, dentist and gynecologist.
Scheduling a routine checkup with your gynecologist is especially important for women going through menopause and postmenopause. Menopause is a time of natural change in a woman's life when her body stops producing estrogen, typically around age 51. While most postmenopausal women are aware of hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, fewer have heard of the symptoms of postmenopausal vaginal atrophy, which include vaginal burning, itching and dryness, increased urgency in urination and painful sexual intercourse. These symptoms can make sex painful.
If you're experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you're not alone! Every woman will go through menopause, in fact, at least one-third of women experience some vaginal symptoms after menopause. Although postmenopausal vaginal atrophy is not a life-threatening condition, it is a problem for many women, and you can talk to your doctor about it.
"Many women may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed discussing their symptoms, but the truth is menopause is a normal part of aging," said Nationally Certified Menopause Practitioner, Dr. Tara Allmen. "It's important for you to be open and honest with your healthcare professional and partner so they understand what's going on. By describing your symptoms in detail during your office visit, you can get the treatment you need and help find relief."
There are available prescription treatment options for women focused on treating their postmenopausal vaginal symptoms. One easy to use treatment option to discuss with your doctor is ESTRING (estradiol vaginal ring). ESTRING is used after menopause to treat moderate to severe vaginal itching, burning and dryness, painful intercourse, urinary urgency, and painful urination due to urogenital atrophy.
ESTRING is a soft, flexible ring that is about 2 inches in diameter and treats moderate to severe symptoms of postmenopausal vaginal atrophy. ESTRING contains a form of estrogen that works like your body's natural estrogen to treat these local symptoms.
Once inserted, ESTRING works to help relieve these symptoms by releasing a steady, low dose of estradiol for a 90-day treatment period. So after you insert one, you do not have to remember to insert it every day. When ESTRING is in place, you shouldn't feel anything. If you do feel uncomfortable, the ring is probably not far enough inside. You can use your finger to gently push it further into your vagina.
Estrogens increase the risk of cancer of the uterus. Estrogens should be used only as long as needed. You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly (such as every 3 to 6 months) about continued use of estrogen-containing products like ESTRING. You should discuss the potential benefits and risks of ESTRING with your healthcare provider. Do not use ESTRING if you have unusual vaginal bleeding, have or have had cancer of the breast or uterus, had a stroke or heart attack, have or have had blood clots or liver problems, are allergic to any of its ingredients, or think you may be pregnant.
Once you take the first step and start discussing your symptoms, you may be one step closer to finding a treatment option that works for you.