Estrogen is a medication of class hormones that works by replacing estrogen, which is normally produced by the body. Estrogen is most commonly used to treat hot flashes in women who are experiencing menopause. It is also either used to treat vaginal dryness, itching or burning or to prevent osteoporosis in women who are experiencing menopause.
It comes as oral tablet which is usually taken once a day with or without food. Estrogen is usually taken every day, however sometimes the doctors may recommend to take it on alternate days.
Estrogen has been known to pose a small risk of increasing the chances of developing endometrial cancer.
Women who have not had a hysterectomy should rather be given another medication called progestin to take with estrogen. Progestin may decrease the risk of developing endometrial cancer; however, it may increase your risk of developing certain other health problems, including breast cancer. It is always recommended to immediately contact the doctor if there is an abnormal vaginal bleeding during treatment with estrogen.
A recent study has found yet another side-effect of taking estrogens. The study found that women who took estrogen with or without progestins had a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots in the lungs or legs. It may also increase the risk of developing breast cancer and dementia.
Whenever your doctor asks you to take estrogen for treatment, share your history of heart problems and blood clots if you have any. Also share if you smoke or if you have or had high blood pressure, high blood levels of cholesterol or fats, diabetes, heart disease, lupus, breast lumps or an abnormal mammogram.
If you can’t take estrogen because of a blood clot risk, you can use other birth control methods such as progestin-only oral contraceptive. For vaginal dryness or painful intercourse, you may consider a non-estrogen lubricant or a vaginal estrogen cream. The vaginal estrogen cream contains estrogen in very small amounts and therefore, it doesn’t pose an increased risk for clots. Testosterone is another option for hot flashes and vaginal dryness. You can also discuss options such as medications, antidepressants and herbs with your doctors to substitute estrogen and avoid the risk of blood clots.
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