Vagifem (generic name: Estradiol vaginal tablets) is a medication for the treatment of some menopause symptoms, as well as urgency to urinate and urinary irritation. Symptoms of menopause that are treatable with Vagifem include dryness, burning and itching of the vagina and outer area of the vagina. The active ingredient, estradiol is a hormone that naturally occurs in the body as estrogen. A woman’s ovaries over time produce less and less oestrogen, and oestrogen blood levels decline as a result of this. When a woman goes through the menopause, oestrogen levels in the body drop dramatically which can cause the symptoms to manifest. The lining of the vagina is extremely sensitive, which is why it is so often affected by the drop in oestrogen levels. Vagifem vaginal tablets release low amounts of estradiol into the vagina as a short term treatment to help relieve the symptoms and return the tissues in and around the vagina to normal. Estradiol is absorbed from the vagina into the blood stream to a small extent, which means that it can potenitally carry the same warnings as hormone replacement therapy. This is why Vagifem is only prescribed for around 3 months at a time and the patient is required to have “breaks” from using it.
Vagifem Side Effects:
As with any drug, there may be side effects from taking Vagifem including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, acne or skin complaints, swollen breasts, decreased sex drive, difficulty having an orgasm, migraine, headache, dizziness, vaginal pain, dryness or discomfort in or around the vagina, swelling of the ankles or feet and depression. More serious side effects may include chest pain, pain spreading to arm or shoulder, nausea, sudden numbness or weakness, sudden headache, problems with vision or speech, abnormal vaginal bleeding, jaundice, lump in the breast or pain/swelling of the lower leg. If you experience any side effects you must seek medical attention immediately for safety.
You should follow the instructions of the doctor who prescribed Vagifem to you. Directions and dosage information can also be found on the pack or leaflet inside the pack. Vagifem comes in tablet form. Tablets should not be swallowed, but are to be inserted into the vagina. Each tablet comes with a disposable applicator to aid the insertion. You should insert the applicator as deep as possible and press on the plunger to insert the tablet, before throwing the applicator away. Vagifem should be stored at room temperature away from direct sunlight and heat.
If you are allergic to any of the ingredients of Vagifem, you should avoid taking it and inform your doctor. You must consult your doctor if you have any pre-existing medical conditions including high blood pressure, angina, heart disease, bleeding or clotting disorder, history of stroke or circulation problems, abnormal vaginal bleeding, breast cancer, uterine cancer, any form of hormone dependent cancers, liver or kidney disease, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, asthma, migraine, depression gallbladder disease or if you have had a hysterectomy. You must consult your doctor if you are taking any other medications as they may interact with Vagifem, including rifampin, antibiotics, ritonavir, Phenobarbital, St John’s Wort, blood thinners such as warfarin and carbamazepine. Although unlikely in women who have gone through the menopause, it is important that you inform your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to conceive or breastfeeding as Vagifem may cause harm to unborn and new born babies. Long term use of Vagifem can increase the risk of stroke. It also increases the risk of endometrial hyperplasia which can lead to cancer of the uterus.
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