WHI data to confirm vaginal oestrogen does not increase risk of heart disease, breast, or endometrial cancer

11 October 2017

North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting

Women can breathe sigh of relief when using vaginal oestrogen to treat menopause symptoms

Hot flushes aren't the only bothersome symptom of the menopause transition. Many postmenopausal women also experience sexual dysfunction and urinary problems that don't require oestrogen pills but, rather, can be alleviated by vaginally administered oestrogen. A new study shows that, despite previous misperceptions, this treatment option is not only effective, but also safe. 

Vaginal oestrogen in the form of a cream or suppository is highly effective in managing an array of sexual and urinary problems collectively referred to as the genitourinary syndrome of menopause. Despite its proven effectiveness, the use of vaginal oestrogen has been restricted by concerns of women and their healthcare providers regarding its potential link to such serious health issues as coronary heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, and others. Examination of the data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study of more than 45,000 participants showed, however, that the use of vaginal oestrogen does not significantly increase the risk of heart disease or cancer, including breast, colorectal, and endometrial cancer. Nor is it related to an elevated risk of such other concerns as stroke, pulmonary embolism, hip fracture, or death.


"These results should help reassure women regarding the safety of vaginal estrogen," says Dr. Carolyn Crandall, lead author of the study from the University of California in Los Angeles.

"Studies like these are so valuable to help dispel misperceptions that keep women from getting the relief they seek," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. "Women and their healthcare providers need to be armed with the latest facts so they can make informed decisions regarding their treatment options."

Content updated 11 October 2017