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Vaginal atrophy

(109 Posts)
Marelli Wed 09-Jan-13 17:21:35

I've just had a phone call from my friend who was really upset. She's been diagnosed with Vaginal Atrophy and her GP (female) says she'll just have to put up with it - it's her age....hmm. My friend (E) has had breast cancer so cannot have HRT.
She asked me to look on the internet to see if I could find out about any treatment that might be suitable for her. However, I feel that she has been treated very badly by her GP and should ask to see another doctor in the practice. She's reluctant to do this as all of the others are male.
I feel as if she has been really badly treated.

Mamie Wed 09-Jan-13 17:36:47

Rubbish. Excellent treatment available, I think Vagifem is used mostly in the UK. Tell her to look on Menopause Matters forum and then see a different GP. Grrr...

Ariadne Wed 09-Jan-13 17:39:07

She has indeed been badly treated! Do urge her to find a second opinion.

Mamie Wed 09-Jan-13 17:45:01

I can see from quickly reading the web that some doctors see breast cancer as a problem, but others seem to prescribe Vagifem. Maybe she needs to see a specialist? I certainly don't think she should be told to put up with it; it can be dreadfully debilitating.

Lancashirelass Wed 09-Jan-13 17:46:01

What a shame! Ask for a second opinion, and insist on a female doctor. Good luck!

jeni Wed 09-Jan-13 17:52:19

Second opinion, preferably from a gynaecologist.

Marelli Wed 09-Jan-13 18:22:25

I knew I would get this sort of response! I really do wish she was able to read these posts, but will phone her tomorrow and give her your replies. I'll have a look at the Vagifem site and give her the information. E is a very shy person and would find it difficult to argue with her GP, but I've told her that if she wanted me to, I'd go with her to give her a bit of moral support. She was in tears when I spoke to her. She's 68, and isn't even able to discuss the problem with her husband, asking me to phone while he's at work tomorrow. sad

kittylester Wed 09-Jan-13 18:37:48

I use vagifem, as little as I can get away, with but probably once a week which I'm told is fairly safe. Last time I got a prescription the dosage had reduced considerably so don't quite know what that means. It has made a HUGE difference. See another gp.

Mamie Wed 09-Jan-13 18:41:11

Do urge her to look at the Menopause Matters forum too.

Grannyknot Wed 09-Jan-13 19:29:39

I can't take HRT either - have tried all sorts of dosages etc over the years but I get the worst breast pain imaginable, so I gave up on it. The doctor shouldn't write her off like that, there are loads and loads of natural products to try that may help, I received a bumper pack of samples (from GN I think after the Suzy Godson chat?) a while ago, what fun. Anyway have settled on one that suits us perfectly so that + regular activity wink has overcome any problems related to atrophy symptoms.

JessM Wed 09-Jan-13 20:35:21

I think the issue is that the vagifem contains some oestrogen and that some breast cancers tend to grow more in the presence of oestrogen. I had heard that it contains a lot less than HRT though. The day may come that I will have to make that decision because I have had breast cancer. But in the meantime - yes those lubricant samples were entertaining weren't they. Can we have some more Cari I can't remember which were the best ones. grin
On a similar theme I have recently acquired a tub of coconut oil from H and Barrett. Some deranged H and B customers eat it because they have got it into their heads it is good for you (mistake, very high in saturates) but as a massage oil it has the huge advantage that it is solid at room temperature and melts at skin temp. So no more worrying about tipping massage oil all over the bed. And it is edible. And smells like Bounty.

Ana Wed 09-Jan-13 20:47:30

Good as a leave-in overnight conditioner for dry hair too!

jeni Wed 09-Jan-13 21:32:19

Is the vaginitis only causing problems with sex? If so there are no hormonal alternatives. The best I found was in France called I think Femmilube!
! My French wasn't up to asking for a lubricant, so some hilarious mime was used in a French chemist's shop.grin

There was also an offer on samples at some time on GN. Perhaps the participants could offer some helpful advice?

Elegran Wed 09-Jan-13 22:04:14

There is also a French lubricant called "Vieille" which I think means "Old woman" ! It seems very like baby oil.

Grannyknot Wed 09-Jan-13 22:17:53

Jess LOL me neither!

Nelliemoser Wed 09-Jan-13 23:28:16

I joined this club some years ago!

jeni kitty If don't take the vagifem even walking becomes uncomfortable.
I don't worry about anything else these days. I understand that that vagifem is quite low in oestrogens and as it is "topical" most gets to just where it is needed and less gets into the general system than oral HRT does.

Marelli get her to see snother GP it is a really miserable and uncomfortable condition!

Nelliemoser Wed 09-Jan-13 23:31:06

My female GP prescibed it straight away it is so uncomfortable you can't "just put up with it."

crimson Thu 10-Jan-13 00:23:45

Ana; is that the coconut oil or the vagifem? Because I was thinking that, if my thinning hair was a post menopause thing, then vagifem might help confused.

Mamie Thu 10-Jan-13 05:50:37

In my case I had non-stop thrush and UTIs for months as well as problems with walking and exercise. I think the dose is very low and what they say is that some oestrogen may escape into the system at first, but as the vaginal walls repair, it stays put. I tried all the ordinary lubrication, but it made no difference.

JessM Thu 10-Jan-13 07:05:37

You never know Crimson grin but the vagifem probably does not smell as yummy.
I think mamie you have highighted the difference between a bit of a shortage of lubrication and a clinical condition that needs treatment.
I just looked it up on the NHS Choices site. Bit of a poor showing on this subject I think. The problems of older women not being taken very seriously maybe?

However their link to provides better info. This is quite a good site I find.
Now I have read that I understand that there are :
lubricants for help with intercourse (the runny ones are better than the gels don't we think?)
lubricants for dryness that is causing discomfort - you might not be wanting to have sex, but if you are dry, uncomfortable, itchy etc down below on a regular basis - yes this might be a self help solution. Things like Replens® and Sylk®. Boots also do one. Intrigued that "customers who bought this also bought" ... cucumber eye gel - how does that help? grin
and if those don't work, and they might not if your vagina really suffering from tissue damage caused by lack of oestrogen then there is the oestrogen cream that actually treats the condition and you can only get from your doctor.
Phew I feel better now. Learned something before breakfast and had a laugh. Thank you

Mamie Thu 10-Jan-13 07:35:59

Yes I think that's it Jess. My doctor gave me endless thrush treatments and antibiotics for the UTIs, but I found the menopause matters site, realised what it was and he said, yes that will be it and gave me the gelules. It isn't Vagifem here, though. It took about four months to work properly, but I just use three a week now. The French version has progesterone, oestriol and lacto bactillus in it. I had a dreadful menopause for ten years, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

JessM Thu 10-Jan-13 07:58:00

Treating the symptoms not the cause Mamie - I think most people find that thrush clears up at the menopause don't they? I seem to remember reading that somewhere and that has certainly been my experience - so if it starts up again its telling you something.

Mamie Thu 10-Jan-13 08:21:23

I had never had thrush before, Jess. I got a canestan tablet and cream in Boots the first time and when I went to the doctor here she was amazed. In France we would never put something in our mouths for vaginal thrush, she said. So pessaries prescribed and I was allergic to some of those.... Nightmare!

JessM Thu 10-Jan-13 08:37:32

I have read that if you get post menopausal thrush you should not self medicate. This may be because it can be associated with Type 2 diabetes as well as vaginal atrophy. Excess sugar around in the body feeds the little candida devils. So post menopausal thrush should be taken to the doctor.
It is often a "normal" condition in the premenopausal woman, caused by oestrogens over-boosting the sugar content of vaginal secretions. (This is based on: - the slightly acidic balance of healthy vagina relies on lactobacilli using sugar and converting it into lactic acid which in turn creates mild acidity and discourages candida and other microbes. So the body cleverly supplies the lactobacilli with a little extra sugar - it feeds them. But this mechanism only works when there is oestrogen around. In younger women the menstrual cycle and its fluctuating oestrogen levels are linked to thrush - the balance sometimes is not quite right at all times of the cycle)
But it is not "normal" in the post menopause women who are not on HRT.

jeni Thu 10-Jan-13 08:38:51

Don't the French always use pessaries or suppositories in preference to oral medications?

My iPad insisted they were pest arises instead of pessaries? Is it having Freudian spelling slips?

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