Ask the Pharmacist: Hormone Creams Edition with Michelle Briest, PharmD

June 2, 2023

By: Belmar Pharmacy

Your doctor prescribed a compounded hormone cream. Now what? If you’re like most patients, you probably have some questions about your prescription.  

We’ve compiled a short list of the most common questions our pharmacists hear each day when counseling patients. (Did you know you can contact a Belmar Pharmacist for assistance with your compounded medications?) 

In this article, Belmar Pharmacist, Michelle Briest answers questions about hormone creams to give you a better understanding of how to apply, how to know if it may be helping, and some of the potential benefits of this type of therapy, especially for women in menopause. 

Q: Where should I apply my hormone cream? 

A: Where you apply compounded hormone cream depends on the type of hormones in the cream and the condition you’re addressing. Vaginal creams may be inserted directly into the vagina through an applicator and can also be applied externally to vaginal tissue. These creams may relieve discomfort and pain associated with menopause or chronic vulvovaginal disorders.  

Topical hormone creams are typically applied directly to the skin on your inner forearm, inner thighs, upper arms, or back of your knees, but always refer to your prescriber’s instructions for your individual needs. 

Q: What types of hormone creams help with menopause symptoms? 

A: Depending on your symptoms, estriol, estradiol, progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone (or a personalized combination) can be compounded into hormone creams. When applied topically or vaginally, hormone creams can reduce menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disruptions. Vaginal creams are especially helpful for localized vaginal symptoms such as vaginal dryness. 

Q: What are estrogen creams used for? 

A: Estradiol and estriol creams are commonly used to reduce the symptoms of vaginal dryness and painful sex, often associated with menopause. They are hormones that your body naturally produces during your reproductive years. They may help to decrease vaginal dryness and alleviate pain and irritation associated with low estrogen levels. 

Q: Even if the hormone cream doesn’t fully blend into my skin, am I still getting all the benefits of the medication? 
A: Hormone creams for systemic relief applied to the skin are not intended as moisturizers, so they may not feel like or absorb completely into your skin as easily as a body lotion or hand cream. Rest assured that the medication is being absorbed and you’re still getting all the benefits even if your skin feels a little tacky where you applied the cream.  

Q: I have sensitive skin. Can I still use a compounded hormone cream? 

A: Since we custom make all creams, our pharmacists are able to assist with the best base selection for patients with sensitivities. We have many alternative cream and gel bases available to meet the needs of patients with sensitivities, so we can find a way to create an ideal therapeutic option. That’s another great benefit of compounded medications! If you’re allergic or sensitive to a particular ingredient, our pharmacists can personalize the prescription just for you. 

Q: What else do I need to know about compounded hormone creams? 

A: Hormone creams are often applied either in the morning or in the evening, depending on the nature of the medication and its purpose. Additionally, you need to be careful about transferring it to a partner, child, or pet. We recommend avoiding intercourse immediately after vaginal insertion of hormone creams unless directed otherwise. Of course, as with all medications, keep out of reach of children and pets.  

Q: What happens if I forget to apply the hormone cream? Should I apply it twice the next time?  

A: If you miss a dose, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take double the dose at the same time. 

Stil have questions? Get in touch with a Belmar pharmacist