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Pros & Cons of Osphena for Vaginal Discomfort

Pros & Cons of Osphena for Vaginal Discomfort

Q. I went through menopause several years ago and have struggled ever since with vaginal dryness and pain. A few years ago I used Premarin cream, but it was messy and smelly and I was scared that it might promote cancer.

Vitamin E soft gels as vaginal suppositories were not messy. They did help some, but the physician’s assistant at our clinic said I shouldn’t use vitamin E that way.

Replens helps slightly with the dryness but not with the pain. I’ve recently seen TV ads for a pill called Osphena that is supposed to treat this. What can you tell me about that option?

A. Osphena (ospemifene) was approved a year ago for postmenopausal women suffering from painful intercourse. Though it is not estrogen, vaginal tissues respond to it as if it were, becoming thicker and less fragile.

You might ask your doctor about trying these tablets for a short time. This drug might not be a long-term solution for you because uterine tissues respond to Osphena as if it were estrogen, increasing the risk for endometrial cancer. Women who have had a hysterectomy are not at risk of this problem and could use it without worrying. Any woman who develops vaginal bleeding while on Osphena should see her doctor promptly. Blood clots are another potential side effect.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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