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What Is Estriol Cream?

By M. Haskins
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Estriol cream is a vaginal cream that contains the female sex hormone estriol, also known as oestriol, which is produced by the ovaries during pregnancy. This kind of cream is most commonly used to treat menopausal symptoms, including vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and frequent urinary tract infections. Usually, the cream is either applied topically to the skin of the vagina or inserted into the vagina using an applicator. In some parts of the world, including most European countries, estriol cream is available by prescription, but in other places, for example the United States and Canada, it is not approved for medical use. The proponents of using this cream to treat symptoms of menopause claim that it is a safe medical treatment with few serious side effects, while opponents claim that estriol requires further study and can increase the risk of certain forms of cancer.

Several female sex hormones are referred to as estrogens. The most common so-called natural estrogens are estriol, estradiol and estrone. Natural estrogens are produced by the human body, while synthetic estrogens are manufactured by chemical processes. Some estrogens are also produced by plants or fungi. The estriol used in estriol cream is either synthetic or derived from animal sources, but is chemically identical to the estriol produced by the human body.

In countries where estriol cream is approved for medical use, it is commonly prescribed by doctors to relieve menopausal symptoms. Directions for use can vary, but it is often recommended to apply the cream once per day, usually before bedtime. It is either applied directly to the exterior parts of the vagina or inserted into the vagina with an applicator. After one week of treatment, the cream often only needs to be applied two or three times per week. Side effects are usually mild, but can include vaginal burning and vaginal bleeding.

Estriol is sometimes used in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). This is an alternative medical therapy that uses combinations of several female hormones to treat menopausal symptoms. However, some medical experts believe that the safety and benefits of BHRT have been overstated.

Many scientists and medical experts argue that estriol cream is a simple, safe and effective treatment for common menopausal symptoms. Some research also indicates that it can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis in menopausal women. Other medical experts argue that estriol needs further scientific study, and that it can increase the risk of uterine cancer and breast cancer. It is not recommended to use estriol cream unless it is prescribed by a physician.

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Discussion Comments
By anon998158 — On Apr 18, 2017

I have just been prescribed Estriol for irregular post menopausal bleeding. From what I've been reading online, Estriol is supposed to be a 'good' hormone and my gynec. assures me that it is very safe. 0,01% is a very low dosage. I've always been skeptical of HRT, but my quality of life has diminished so much that I'm now prepared to do as I'm told by the experts. After all, they're the ones that have to fix me when things go wrong!

By anon348584 — On Sep 18, 2013

I was originally prescribed "Estrace" vaginal cream by my OB/GYN, and I really dreaded using it because of all the hormones and possible side effects. My mother had breast cancer two times, so I fear that also. I never did use the Estrace cream often enough, and have also gone through my change. I have noticed changes that I discussed with my doctor and asked for a "Bioidentical" to help alleviate some of the symptoms I'm now having at this stage. Tonight will be my first time using it, and it's the lowest dosage there is.

A friend of mine has been using this cream for about five years and absolutely says it has made a huge difference. So I'll try it for a couple of months and then see my doctor and see if there's any difference since my last exam. As far as side effects, even a common aspirin has side effects. I think using common sense and staying aware of your body and its changes, plus yearly mammograms and pap tests is the smartest choice for all women.

By serenesurface — On Jan 11, 2013

@ZipLine-- I heard this too. Many women on a beauty forum I'm on were talking about it.

I think it's a bad idea because after all, this is a cream with hormones. It can absorb into the body from anywhere it is applied, including the face. Women who are using it on their face regularly must be messing up their hormone levels big time.

The other controversy I've heard about estriol cream is that it can increase the risk for breast cancer in women who have an inclination for it.

I think that estrogen and its forms play a major role in breast cancer. My mom is also not taking any form of estrogen even though she's post-menopause because she has a cyst in her breast.

By ZipLine — On Jan 11, 2013

I heard from my friend that some women are using estriol cream on their face. Apparently, it makes their skin look younger and also makes it softer and plumper.

Isn't this dangerous to do? Has anyone tried estriol as a face cream?

By SteamLouis — On Jan 10, 2013

I used this cream when I was in the UK. It was prescribed by my doctor there for vaginal dryness and it really helped. Now I'm back in the states and I found out that estriol vaginal cream isn't available here. It's frustrating because it was working so well for me.

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