Decreasing estrogen can cause many unpleasant side effects, such as vaginal dryness, mood swings and hot flashes. Your OBGYN may prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to reduce these symptoms and the risk of certain diseases, such as osteoporosis.
Estrogen and Women’s Health
While the extent of estrogen’s role in women’s health is still a mystery, it is believed estrogen impacts physical and emotional well-being through:
- Enhancing your body’s ability to absorb calcium
- Increasing the release of serotonin
- Regulating cholesterol production
- Maintaining vaginal health
Women experiencing moderate to severe menopause symptoms, who have undergone an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) or who are at-risk for osteoporosis may be candidates for estrogen replacement therapy.
Estrogen & Progesterone Replacement Therapy
Estrogen replacement therapy increases the risk of endometrial cancer in women who have not had a hysterectomy. Estrogen causes your uterine lining to thicken, and women in menopause no longer shed the lining regularly. This can result in an over-growth of uterine cells, which can lead to cancer.
Progesterone reduces growth and promotes more regular shedding of the uterine lining. In addition, progesterone may improve libido, restore energy levels and reduce depression and stress. As such, estrogen and progesterone combination replacement therapy is always recommended for women who still have their uterus.
Estrogen and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease that results in the loss of bone density and strength. Estrogen can reduce that risk by improving the body’s ability to absorb calcium and preserve bone. While estrogen has benefits that include preventing osteoporosis in women at high-risk, HRT is not typically prescribed for the sole purpose of treating osteoporosis.
Risks and Challenges
Hormone replacement therapy may not be right for women with little or no menopausal symptoms or who are pregnant. In addition, you may not be a candidate for HRT if you have a history of:
- Breast cancer
- Liver disease
- Blood clots
- Heart disease
For more information or to see if HRT is right for you, speak with your OBGYN.