Embarrassment of vaginal dryness

Hi, I started Anastrazole 15 months ago after a mastectomy, lymph node removal and chemo. I’m 47 and had early menopause.  I suffered vaginal dryness straight after chemo and it continues.  I attempted intercourse with my long term partner once since diagnosis in Sept 13 but it was too painful.  Luckily my partner is very understanding and we’d resigned ourselves to not having sex for the foreseeable future.  I find everyday things even just walking about make me sore down below.

When I saw my oncologist last month (private - have BUPA) I plucked up courage to mention the dryness.  He was very open and understanding and said it was a very common side effect.  He’s decided to change me onto Tamoxifen as the Anastrazole was causing me severe joint pain and I’ve been diagnosed with the onset of Osteoporosis.  I find the dryness problem very embarrassing and difficult to talk about.  So I was relieved when my onc wrote a letter to me and my GP recommending vaginal moisturisers to be prescribed along with the Tamoxifen.

I expected to be able to collect my prescription for Tamoxifen and it to include a moisturiser, without having the embarrassment of asking for it in the chemist, which I would never do.

So when I collected my prescription, it only showed Tamoxifen.  I phoned the docs and was told by the GP that she would have to examine me before she could prescribe a moisturiser incase anything else was going off.   I don’t get it… what else can be ‘going off’?  I have a very dry vagina caused by cancer treatment.  She happily prescribed Tamoxifen without examining me.  I told her how embarrassing I find it but it seems somebody will have to have a look just to make sure I’m not exaggerating and even though my oncologist had written to her saying he recommended moisturisers to be prescribed.   I got all emotional and I told her I would just have the Tamoxifen and that’s all I got.  

So I’m still in discomfort and due for a smear but how can I have one when I can hardly even sit down sometimes because of the dryness.  I get so emotional about this and I know many of you will have the confidence to ask about these things.  I wonder if anyone else got a prescription from their GP without having to have an examination please?

Hi Gemini


I am so sorry to hear that you have been so dreadfully treated.  Vaginal dryness is a sympton of the menopause, which I already had before all the surgery and chemo I am going through.  To be put into early menopause so suddenly must be much worse.  I must admit I already bought lubricants to help me, but now I am receiving active treatment, I will have no hesitation in asking my GP to prescribe something for me.  Especially when I get my free prescriptions card I have applied for.  I have bought all sorts of things to get me through this cancer treatment and have paid for them all so far, so will not hesitate in asking for things I want then.


You have every right to receive this from your GP.  I do assume they only want to examine you to make sure nothing else is going on, such as an infection or something, but nevertheless, they should still give you the moisturisers meantime to help with an important part of your life that you have lost for some time now.  It is just no fair.  I am SO annoyed for you. You need to get that part of your life back to live a normal life - whatever that is I am not so sure.


Hope you get the help you need


Val xxxx

Go to the doctor and let her do her tests. There are other reasons for this not cancer related and she would t be doing her job without checking you are ok and free from any other problems. Then ask for a product called Yes it’s a lubricant that comes in pessaries and is available on prescription. Using this just before sex will help and with regular use will make you feel normal again. Your doctor won’t know of this product so look on the yes website print off the info and take it on with you.

Hi, just adding that YES is a brilliant product. I use the water based tubes and pessaries. My GP prescribed me Replens a few years back (before the Breast Cancer nightmare) when I was going through the menopause. I didn’t find Replens very good (itchy and it seemed to produce strange white bits). I found Yes through my own research and bought it online after trying lots of various lubricants/vaginal moisturisers. I didn’t know that GPs can prescribe YES. This is very good news as I can now get it with my prescription exemption card. I hope you’ve applied for this card? I believe you can get money you’ve paid on prescriptions refunded if they were prescribed after your cancer diagnosis and before your cad arrived.

I also had terrible discomfort during sex and while walking at one point. YES really helps, you need to use it regularly. Dryness is one of the most common symptoms of the menopause - it’s just annoyingly not talked about. It was vaginal dryness and reduced libido that made me ask for HRT…I didn’t know I had an ER+ breast tumour growing then and obviously can never go back to HRT. But I felt very embarrassed at first, especially talking about the libido bit! But I had experienced an awful time at my last smear test 6 months before I saw my GP so she obviously was aware that things were bad. The smear test was too painful to continue with. They always used to use loads of lubrication during smear tests but the nurse told me they weren’t ‘allowed’ to anymore as it interfered with the results! I said that I couldn’t see how they could carry out smear tests with no lubrication on post menopausal women. The nurse could not offer any solution. Finally. After 3 failed attempts they prescribed lidocaine cream and an applicator. Apparently you can use lidocaine cream (which is creamy so a bit of moisturiser gets to the right area and secondly it completely numbs the area)! You apply it half an hour before your smear test. This info might be too late to help you with your smear test but good to know for next time. I think your GP just wants to check that the soreness you feel is vaginal dryness and not anything else. She may just want to talk through your symptoms with you and seeng her face to face is a good opportunity to get a good lubricant/vaginal moisturiser like YES. 

If you haven’t talked to your GP yet loads of good luck with it.

Warm wishes

Baz x

Just want to add that YES is a lubricant rather than a moisturiser. A very good moisturiser I’ve been using is EVA ph5.0 Vaginal moisturiser. It’s a Greek product I first bought in Crete in 2012. It comes in a in carton with a tube of clear moisturiser with 9 applicators. You can either just squirt some on or use the applicator. It feels as if your vaginal has had a drink afterwards - really relives soreness for me. It costs 10 Euros (about £7 quid?). Good to know if you’re on hols and need something quickly. I get it posted over to me from www.healthzone.gr but other places might sell it? I also want to say that another really good lubricant is pjur original lubricant ‘body glide’. Many places sell it but think I got it from Amazon. 

Try everything & hopefully you’ll find something that helps

Baz x

i was prescribed replense MD.I just blurted it out to my usual GP(a young man) just siad could I have it and he didn’t ask why. I had been buying it but it comes with an applicator that you have to re-use and wash out, most embarrasing if you leave it in the bathroom and have visitors. It is available on prescription in pre filled applicators so that is what I got. Recently I found sex really painfull and as already using replense was worried it may be something else so I booked to see a female GP. I was so embarrassed at 61 she did examine me and said it was a hormone defficiency I am on exemestane as my cancer was oestrogen receptive. She wrote to my oncologist and he agreed I could be prescribed a low level form of oestrogen it is vagifem and has worked for me.The GP did explain that it can’t be guaranteed that a small amount wont be absorbed but that its about quality of life Good luck.For a few minutes embarrasment it was well worth it