Q. My doctor recently prescribed Premarin Vaginal Cream. It has improved my life dramatically, reducing dryness and easing other symptoms of menopause. Are there any negative effects? Is it absorbed into my body?
A. Premarin Vaginal Cream contains conjugated estrogens just like Premarin pills. It has been approved by the FDA to correct vaginal dryness that leads to painful intercourse.
Over three decades ago there was evidence that vaginal estrogen cream (Premarin) could be absorbed rapidly and efficiently into the bloodstream (JAMA, Dec. 14, 1979). More recent studies have confirmed that estrogen in vaginal creams or tablets (Vagifem) is readily absorbed into the body (Annals of Oncology, April 2006; Menopause, Jan., 2009). There are concerns that vaginal exposure to estrogen might increase the risk of breast cancer in susceptible women.
Please discuss the benefits and risks with your physician. According to The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, the long-term safety of vaginal estrogen creams remains unclear (Feb. 23, 2009).
You can find out more about this and other ways to manage vaginal dryness in our Guide to Menopause.