Estrogen Therapy: Is it Right for You?

Doctor with female patient

Some women in their 40s, 50s or even 60s suffer from the uncomfortable issues associated with menopause such as night sweats, mood swings and hot flashes. You don’t have to suffer from these symptoms, though. With hormone replacement therapy, you can reduce your discomfort from these symptoms. However, the side effects of hormone replacement therapy isn’t always worth it for prospective patients.

Estrogen Therapy Benefits

Estrogen-therapy consists of the patient receiving estrogen hormones to replace the ones missing because of menopause. A doctor will prescribe estrogen in a pill, gel, skin patch, injection, spray foam or cream. Patients who undergo estrogen therapy have fewer menopause symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.

It could possibly reduce your vaginal dryness and make sexual intercourse more pleasurable, considering both of these things occur when your body stops producing estrogen. The therapy could promote a better night’s sleep since menopause has the potential to interfere with the quality of your sleep.

According to the Mayo Clinic, hormone therapy might reduce your risk of developing dementia. It’ll help raise your good cholesterol while decreasing your bad cholesterol level.

It also appears to reduce the prevalence of bone thinning. As the bones begin to thin, it puts you more at risk for fractures. If you receive hormone therapy consisting of estrogen and progesterone, you’re at a decreased risk of developing endometrial cancer.

Side Effects of Estrogen Therapy

Without the use of progesterone along with the estrogen, you’re at a greater risk for certain types of cancer including endometrial cancer and uterine cancer. It’s possible that hormone therapy will cause you to experience headaches. You might feel nauseous after receiving estrogen. Many women experience breast pain from the therapy. You could have breast swelling or enlargement as well. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is common in those who take estrogen therapy. It’s more common in women who undergo estrogen-based therapy to have abnormal vaginal bleeding after menopause than a woman who is going through menopause without the use of hormone replacement therapy.

You could find yourself experiencing digestive issues as a result of estrogen therapy. You could have indigestion, bloating, cramping and gas. It’s even possible you’ll have diarrhea. Typically, these symptoms will stop about a month after you start the treatment.

Hormone replacement pills could cause you to have cholecystitis, an infection in the gall bladder that causes gall stones. You’ll experience pain as a result of the formations. The only treatment for this condition is surgery.

Leg cramping could occur when you start taking an estrogen replacement therapy. You’ll have leg cramps and swelling that could make it difficult to move your legs. Generally, the leg pain and cramping will reduce over time.

Hormone therapy puts you at a greater risk for developing deep vein thrombosis. This particular condition causes blood clots in the veins, which could put a woman at a greater risk for developing a blood clot in the lungs. Generally, deep vein thrombosis as a side effect of estrogen therapy is rare in healthy women. The ones who tend to develop it are the ones who have a family history of this type of blood clot.

Estrogen-progestin therapy, also known by the acronym EPT, is a hormone therapy that consists of estrogen and progesterone. Although women who use this therapy are at a decreased risk of developing uterine and endometrial cancer, it puts women at a greater risk for breast cancer. The increased risk for breast cancer is small, but it’s still a possibility.

Estrogen therapy has the potential to increase your high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) while reducing your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) count. While this sounds like a positive in terms of heart disease, estrogen therapy has the potential to increase your risk of developing heart disease. The increased risk of heart disease occurs in women who have a family history of heart disease as well as those who have no signs or family history of heart disease. If you utilize hormone therapy to combat your menopause symptoms, you could find yourself at a greater risk for having a stroke.

Misconceptions of Estrogen Therapy

Despite contrary belief, weight gain isn’t a symptom of estrogen therapy. A postmenopausal woman who hasn’t undergone hormone replacement therapy is no more likely to gain weight than a postmenopausal woman who has gone through the therapy. Menopause and aging in general will cause you to gain weight, whether you receive a hormone-based therapy or not.

Estrogen therapy has the potential to cause a variety of side effects. Although most of the side effects are rare, you may not want to risk it if you don’t have to. If you don’t have severe menopause symptoms, you may just want to contend with the discomfort and use natural measures to cope to prevent the risks of estrogen therapy.

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