Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause and aging that affects a large percentage of women. Menopause is a natural change in the body that causes estrogen levels to decrease, and this can result in a range of symptoms, including vaginal dryness.
Testosterone cream and estrogen cream are both promoted to solve vaginal dryness, but these two treatments vary greatly in how they treat vaginal dryness and in their potential side effects.
Testosterone to Treat Menopause Symptoms
Testosterone is widely viewed as the hormone responsible for sex drive, and testosterone does play a role in sex drive and arousal in women. Testosterone is not FDA approved for use by women, and different medical organizations have begun recommending that men be prescribed testosterone with less frequency and that they be aware of the side effects of using testosterone. All women have some testosterone naturally in their bodies, and testosterone levels in women decline from when they are in their twenties to when they are in their forties. However, there is no clear connection between testosterone levels and menopause.
Low testosterone levels can be caused by the surgical removal of the ovaries or uterus, ovary failure, use of some birth controls, and problems with the pituitary gland or adrenal gland, two glands that are part of the endocrine system and produce hormones. Research has shown that testosterone therapy may help boost libido in women. However, this research is not conclusive and more needs to be done to have a clear understanding of the role testosterone therapy can play in women's health and what the potential side effects are.
Research has also shown that testosterone can reduce vaginal dryness and similar menopausal symptoms when applied vaginally. Testosterone should be taken in doses appropriate for women, which can be difficult because in the United States, testosterone is only approved for use by men. Talk to your doctor if you are considering testosterone therapy.
Estrogen to Treat Vaginal Dryness
Estrogen replacement is the most commonly prescribed treatment method for menopausal symptoms, and it is also the treatment that has the highest success rates. However, it is important to talk to your doctor about estrogen therapy before you start it because estrogen replacement can increase a woman's risk for some medical conditions and diseases.
Estrogen replacement is also not just one product; different treatments are applied in different ways and carry different amounts of hormones. Different forms of estrogen therapy that are applied vaginally include a vaginal estrogen ring that releases extra estrogen for three months, estrogen tablets that are inserted into the vagina, and vaginal estrogen cream. Estrogen therapy can also be taken orally and in patch form to fight other menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood swings.
It's important to talk to your doctor about your menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness so you can find a treatment that is best for you and your overall well-being. Estrogen replacement is a much more widespread treatment than testosterone therapy. There are also other treatments out there, such as herbal supplements and lifestyle changes.
- Davis, S.R. & Davison, S.I. (2012). Current Perspectives on Testosterone Therapy . American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Menopausal Medicine, 20. Retrieved from http://www.sart.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/News_and_Publications/Journals_and_Newsletters/Menopausal_Medicine/2012/MenMed_0512.pdf
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012). Vaginal Dryness. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vaginal-dryness/basics/causes/con-20029192
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Testosterone (Topical Application Route). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/testosterone-topical-application-route/description/drg-20073444
- North American Menopause Society. (2005). The role of testosterone therapy in postmenopausal women: position statement of The North American Menopause Society. Menopause, 12(5), 496-511.
- Love, S. (2005). Sexuality and Vaginal Dryness. Retrieved from http://dslrf.org/mwh/content.asp?L2=1&L3=9&SID=132&CID=608&PID=44&CATID=33