In addition to hot flashes and mood swings, menopause is capable of causing a condition called vaginal atrophy or inflammation of your vaginal walls. Vaginal atrophy results from decreased estrogen levels in your body and causes a number of symptoms, including vaginal dryness, urinary frequency, and pain during urination or intercourse. Fortunately, there are topical creams available containing estrogen that help alleviate the symptoms of vaginal atrophy, including estriol. In the United Kingdom and Australia, estriol is available under the brand name Ovestin. Despite its effectiveness, Ovestin is not for everyone as it presents several risks for side effects and complications in some patients.
Common Side Effects
The most common side effects of Ovestin are not normally serious in nature and are similar to those experienced before a menstrual period. Many women experience breast tenderness or swelling as well as increased vaginal discharge while using the cream. It is also common to develop headaches or notice menstrual spotting during Ovestin treatment. Another common side effect of Ovestin usage is redness or itching in the area where you apply the cream.
Other Side Effects
Ovestin also has the potential to cause a number of other annoying, but not dangerous, side effects. Some women develop gastrointestinal reactions to the cream, including nausea, abdominal pain, bloating and flatulence. Neurological and psychological side effects are also possible while taking Ovestin, such as depression, dizziness and changes in sex drive. Due to changes in the chemistry of your vagina brought on by Ovestin, you may experience yeast infections while using the cream. Some women notice that contact lenses are less comfortable throughout Ovestin treatment due to changes in corneal shape caused by estrogen. Other possible side effects of the cream include swelling in your ankles and the appearance of skin rashes on areas distant from the site of application.
There are some medications which produce unwanted side effects when used in conjunction with Ovestin. For example, anti-epileptic medication, barbiturates, rifamycin antibiotics, the herbal supplement St. John's Wort and certain HIV medications all have the potential to cause a resumption of menstrual periods when taken during Ovestin treatment. If you take ropinirole for Parkinson's Disease, it is possible to experience increased side effects from the medication when combined with Ovestin. Also, Ovestin has a tendency to decrease the effectiveness of insulin and anti-diabetic medications. If you have diabetes, it is important to closely monitor your blood sugar levels while using Ovestin to adjust dosage levels of your diabetic treatments as needed.
Although it is not an oral medication, Ovestin is a form of hormone replacement therapy and carries many of the same risks found in conventional HRT drugs. For example, there is an increased risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke while using Ovestin. Like other HRT therapies, use of Ovestin is known to contribute to the onset of cancerous tumors in the endometrium or breasts. In some women, Ovestin causes increases in blood pressure levels. Additionally, the cream has the potential to cause gall bladder disease or liver dysfunction.
If you are pregnant or become pregnant, you cannot use Ovestin due to a possible risk to your baby. You should not smoke while taking Ovestin as doing so further increases risk of heart attack and stroke. In order to monitor for estrogen-dependent cancers, it is important to continue regular pelvic exams and mammograms while taking Ovestin. If you have a history of cancer, blood clots, stroke, angina, liver disease, porphyias, gallstones, endometriosis, epilepsy or asthma, your doctor is not likely to prescribe Ovestin due to its possible side effects. Women who are severely obese are more susceptible to the harmful side effects of Ovestin.