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MagazineNovember 1995 (Vol. 6 Issue 8)Ortho-dienestrol

Ortho-Dienestrol cream is often prescribed to menopausal women to treat thinning of the vaginal wall or vaginal dryness

Ortho-Dienestrol cream is often prescribed to menopausal women to treat thinning of the vaginal wall or vaginal dryness. Its popularity, to some degree, is due to the fact that doctors see it as being less powerful, and so safer, than HRT.

Nonetheless, dienestrol the cream's active ingredient is a synthetic, non-steroidal estrogen. Estrogens have been linked to endometrial cancer in three independent studies; risks of developing the cancer increase by between 4.5 to 13.9 times while women are taking them.

Women who are pregnant, or who are thinking of having a baby, shouldn't take any estrogen preparation. There is a strong possibility that estrogens and progestogens can damage the unborn baby. Indeed, a woman who becomes pregnant while on a course of treatment may be advised by her doctor to seek an abortion.

There are also plenty of hazards in store for the woman past her child-bearing years. While the link between estrogens and endometrial cancer seems proven, there are strong suspicions that they may also trigger cancers of the breast, cervix, vagina and liver. Women who take the treatment for longer than two years also run the risk of developing gall bladder disease.

Estrogens also come with all the worries and alarms surrounding the oral contraceptive pill. These include thrombosis, raised blood pressure, glucose intolerance and hypercalcemia, a condition where there is too much calcium in the blood.

Side effects include fluid retention, depression, candida, bleeding, abdominal cramps or bloating.

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