Menopausal Women May Find OTC Products a Better Alternative to Prescription Drugs

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Menopause is a fact of life for many of the 30 million women ages 50-65 in the United States. Research estimates that 32 percent of these women suffer from menopausal related symptoms like vaginal dryness, which can cause painful intercourse. Although vaginal dryness is common, it’s not frequently discussed between women and their doctors. As women search for solutions on their own, they are likely to be influenced by pharmaceutical company ads, like those promoting Osphena, which may lead women to think that only prescription drugs can help them with the problem of painful intercourse.

“Many women are hesitant to discuss vaginal dryness post-menopause with their doctor because of embarrassment,” says Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of sexual dysfunction and founder of ReclaimYourSexuality.com. “Without these crucial discussions, it will be easy for women to get pulled into ads for pharmaceutical Osphena, which leads women to believe that it’s their only option. But this prescription drug comes with many side effects and it’s important for women to understand that there are also over-the-counter products, like Replens, that they can turn to.”

Osphena was recently introduced as a treatment for moderate to severe painful intercourse, a symptom of changes in and around the vagina, due to menopause and is classified as a selective estrogen receptor modulator, or SERM. These types of medications act on tissues like estrogen to help produce vaginal moisture. Osphena ads claim the tablets improve vaginal tissue and “lubricants can’t do that.”

However, usage of a prescription drug like Osphena comes with risks. According to the FDA, common side effects of Osphena included hot flashes, vaginal discharge, muscle spasms and excessive sweating. Plus, the usage instructions state that Osphena should be used for the shortest amount of time possible to achieve patients' treatment goals.

Since vaginal dryness often continues to worsen after menopause, many women have discovered that weekly usage of an over-the-counter feminine moisturizer is an excellent alternative for addressing vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. Replens Long-Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer is clinically shown to be as effective as vaginal estrogen at treating vaginal dryness symptoms. Replens is different from many lubricants because it contains a bio-adhesive that attaches to dry, compacted cells and delivers continuous moisture until vaginal cells are naturally regenerated (about every three to five days). This allows vaginal tissues to absorb moisture, leaving them hydrated and rejuvenated, making intercourse more enjoyable for women.

“Although it can be difficult to talk about personal issues like vaginal dryness and painful intercourse, it can make a positive difference to discuss the subject with the doctor or health care provider as many gynecologists will first recommend over-the-counter Replens as the effective solution for vaginal dryness and painful intercourse,” adds Castellanos.