Vaginal atrophy with Arimidex treatment

I want to warn others prescribed Arimidex that you may experience vaginal atrophy after some months of treatment. The symptoms are tightness and dryness of the vagina, and consequently painful intercourse. Even if you are not having sex it’s worth doing something about it because if the atrophy progresses smears become painful and the dryness make one prone to thrush.
After about six months on Arimidex I was finding sexual intercourse becoming very painful. I tried using Replens three times a week to aid moisture, but the tightness didn’t abate. It’s not surprising that a drug which inhibits the synthesis of estrogen should lead to this problem.
I consulted my GP asking for a referral to a gynaecologist who gave me dilation kit, which, after a few weeks did the trick combined with continued use of Replens. The kit is a series of tubes of increasing size that you insert daily to gradually stretch the contracted tissues. I did find that the tubes were rather like sticking a broom handle into ones vagina and I did give myself cystitis a couple of times. I felt that something more flexible and nearer to the real thing might cause less trauma and so I bought a latex vibrator from Anne Summers. I don’t bother with the vibration but 3 mins every day stretching the tissues has kept me pain free for the real thing for nearly a year.
Don’t suffer in silence!

I have been using Arimidex for over three years and was diagnosed with vaginal atrophy last month following some bleeding and an ultrasound scan to make sure it was nothing more serious. My gynaecologist said that it was very important to treat it as it can lead to all sorts of other complications and prescribed me a vaginal oestrogen tablet to be used once a week. I was very wary about introducing oestrogen into my body but at my oncology appointment the doctor said that this would be OK. Nobody has mentioned the tubes to me but the vibrator suggestion certainly seems like something I could follow-up - thanks!
Best wishes
Gwyn

Can’t think why you didn’t bother with the vibration - best part!!!

I thought that as well…am on tamoxifen at the moment…but will be going onto arimiwotzit in 2 years…no 1 year and 9 months time…thanks for the tip, will be keeping an eye out for it when the time comes.

Hi Harebell, I am on tamoxifen currently, having just finished zoladex in October after almost 2 yrs. I had vaginal atrophy also due to the zoladex treatment it was horrendous. Diagnosed at age 31 and plunged into the menopause, I went through everything you went through although I suffered in silence until mentioning to the onc at my last appointment end of september when she said perhaps i had had enough and it was about time to give my body a break. (although I was also struggling with horrendous joint pain - which has now almost cleared !) I cant believe the difference in the past few months, things are more or less back to normal down there something I never thought would have happened again so I would say yes dont suffer in silence if there is things that can be done to aid you,
If in future I ever need to go down any other horomonal routes which hopefully I wont !!! I certainly will be mentioning things from an early stage !!! As if we don’t have enough to go through !

I don’t think my prob has reached that level of seriousness, but it’s hard to say as I haven’t had intercourse for months. I Just don’t want sex. I have no sex drive at all, and do have some dryness.

I came off arimidex for 2 wks because of joint pain. The pain hasn’t got any better so doc has suggested going back on until an alternative is found.

Last night I actually had stirrings! (after 2 wks off drugs), maybe that confirms that I will be leading the life of Nun if I stay on arimidex for the remainder of my 5 yrs!

Irene

Hi

I went on HRT 4 years ago due to vaginal atrophy, still think that contributed to my BC, that was after i was given severlal different sized penis shaped expanders, titch to king kong, to stretch my vagina, all very amusing to hubby but unfortunately nothing worked, not even the HRT. I was told at the time it was a symptom of the menopause and lowering oestrogen levels. Well that sounds right if the Arimidex also lowers oestrogen. Does the NHS supply vibrators now, make mine the gold rampant rabbit!

It has been 4 years since i had any kind of matrimonal relations (very polite that) does my hubby mind, well no, poor lamb is on 2 different kinds of blood pressure tablets and suffers from impotence due to them! Problem solved!

seriously though there are some very good lubricants out there I was told one called Silk is very good, another side effect of the good old arimidex eh, whatever next!

Love to you all
Suzzanne

Hi
I have only been on Arimidex since September last year. the dryness and pain on attempting incourse put us off trying. Then the doctor gave me a perscription for Sylk. It is really good, unlike Replens you only use it when you need to. We found making the effort (even thro I dont really feel in the mood!!) makes us both a lots happier.

Ladies

May I recommend a product called SYLK which can now be prescribed by your GP and you can buy in larger BOOTS and other chemists as well as direct.

Sharon

Thanks harebell and others for sharing your stories - had never heard of vaginal atrophy before - bl***y hell what else can this disease throw at us!!! At least forewarned is forearmed…
Jacquie

goodness, i have forgotten what intercourse is!!! heck, along with the hysterectomy and just starting arimidex, wonder if i will be just like a virgin again in a few weeks time!!!
Alisonxxxxxxxxx

Hi again,

Don’t know if this answers your question Alison but last time i went for a smear test the nurse doing it said i had the vagina of a 16 year old!!!

Suzzanne

damn it Suzzanne, how is the nurse going to tell me that now!!! i have no cervex!!! so no more smear tests for me! actually think thats quite good, i did hate them smear tests
Alisonxxx

Re Replens v. Slyk. These two products have different functions. Replens should be used three a times a week to keep the vagina moist and at the correct pH to avoid thrush, etc. A word of warning the first few times you use it can lead to a lot of dead cells being flushed out leading to quite a alarming yellowish discharge. This soon subsides. Sylk, and other similar products, are lubricants that make intercourse much more comfortable and ease the insertion of a dilator. I use both types of products and they have made a world of difference.

I have been following this thread and am quite concerned that nobody but me seems to have been prescribed vaginal oestrogen. All my doctors (GP, Oncologist and Gynaecologist) have said it will be OK for me to use but I am wondering whether to stop and use Replens/Sylk + dilator instead. Has anybody else used oestrogen pessaries?
Gwyn

Gwyn 2: Re vaginal estrogen to treat atrophy. It’s certainly demonstrated to be effective, but, I for one, wouldn’t use it. Many of us have been prescribed Arimidex because our cancers were estrogen-positive. The purpose of Armidex is to stop the synthesis of estrogen and, although the systemic adsorption via the vagina is thought to be small I wouldn’t risk it: particularly as atrophied tissues would most likely be more “leaky” , at least at first, and thus allow more estrogen to be absorbed into the body. My gynaecologist agreed with me that this might well be the case.
I would urge anybody to try the on-hormonal route first: thrice-weekly Replens; plus more of less daily dilator use (about 3 mins per session seems to keep the channel open); plus generous use of lubricant for inserting anything. Things start to improve within a couple of weeks and after a month things should be transformed if I’m anything to go by. I was despairing of ever getting back to having intercourse without pain, but using the regime above things have been back to normal for the last six months.

It’s me again. I should have mentioned re dilators that it’s best to start with the more medical-orientated kit rather than the full-sized kind of things that one buys from the likes of Anne Summers. I started with a set of 4 dilator tubes called “Amelie” that ranged from a an undaunting narrow tube up to something nearer the real thing. The instructions advise one to only move up to the next size when you feel comfortable with the current tube. My gynaecologist gave me the kit and only subsequently did I buy a more comfortable latex job from Anne Summers.

Good luck to any of you giving this regime a try.

I have been having a great chuckle reading your really bright, amusing posts! I had Zoladex myself for 16 months, now on tamoxifen. I haven’t had a problem with the ‘marital relations’ really, do have to use Sylk sometimes but its usually OK. I do try to remember to use Replens 3 times a week although do tend to forget. The worst bit for me was having my last smear which was really painful when she took the actual swab. Unfortunately i had some dodgy cells on my cervix in 06 and had diathermy, so need another smear in 6 months. :frowning:

I NEVER feel like sex … can anyone recommend any ways to feel sexy again. Love my hubby to bits and do it just for him really.

Grace T

hi Grace, apparently we can be prescribed the female equivalent of viagra, my sex drive is nil, so i am seriously thinking of getting this as i feel its just not fair on my poor hubby even though he is so loving and supportive
Alisonxxx

Im glad to read all of your storys,I am on tamoxifen and find the changes in the ole nether regions really wierd,the tightness and the dryness,my goodness the effects we ladies have to put up with on top of everything else we have been through.My sex drive has got up and gone,poor hubby bless him,keep plying him with red wine and pack him off to bed ,so as hes not compus mentis to even try a bit of slap and tickle,really must go looking for where my sex drive has gone off too,seriously I must get this sorted ,its not fair on my supportive hubby or me,am only 47 and feel 107 ,love D…x