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Q: How do I treat dryness and vulvodynia while taking Tamoxifen?

by Dr. Barb DePree MD

The most important thing is usually to re-estrogenize the vagina—with localized, not systemic estrogen. I haven’t seen a single oncologist not agree to allow breast cancer patients to use this. There are a couple of really low-dose estrogen products to use in the vagina; the estrogen is not absorbed outside of that area. Vulvodynia occasionally benefits from the localized estrogen too, or there are some topical options.

A thorough and detailed pelvic exam could help to determine where the pain is arising (vulva, introitus, vagina, pelvic floor muscles, and/or vaginal cuff). Each of these has a different solution, or maybe a combination of options.

A lubricant will help somewhat with sex, but a moisturizer (like Yes) is more important for prevention and long-term preservation (vaginal estrogen can accomplish this, too). Some of my patients use a topical anesthetic in the area. If you have lost some caliber of the vagina—some narrowing, dilators can help restore that. Some women with longstanding pain with intercourse develop vaginismus, in which the involuntary muscles of the vagina go into spasm.

Don’t stop trying! Usually we can restore comfort!


  • I have seen results from the vFit product in patients who use it to address vaginal dryness. Like each state for each of the prescription products, this too has about an 80% response rate for beneficial results. It is not 100% in 100% of patients. We’re excited to have this non-prescription option to offer women who haven’t had a successful result from prescription therapies, or who prefer not to use them, or who it is recommended they not use them (breast cancer patients). While it is expensive, the co-pays for prescriptions are often expensive and they are on-going for the duration of use of the prescription medication, while this is a single ‘up front’ cost, most women are seeing this as a reasonable investment. Learn more from this interview:

    Dr Barb on

  • How do you address a two-time estrogen positive, older breast cancer patient with vaginal tissue so thin that intercourse causes bleeding, even using ample amounts of lubricant? I have been advised NOT to use any estrogen topical cream.

    Lee on

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