Estrogen Replacement Therapy: What You Should Know
All women face it sooner or later. Currently, more than 40 million women in the U.S. are in the traditional menopausal age range (between 45 and 55), that time of life when a woman's ovaries cease to produce estrogen. Many of these women are demanding more information about what happens during this time and what they can do to best manage it.
Fortunately, these women now have a range of options their mothers never had. Moderate to severe menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, caused by a lack of estrogen, can be treated with estrogen replacement therapy (ERT).
Estrogen Treatment Options
Today, ERT is available in a variety of forms. Patches are the newest form of ERT and pills have been in existence since the 1940s. Additionally, women and their physicians can choose the type and dosage of estrogen that is needed. The forms of estrogen most widely used are:
Women should consult with their physicians to determine whether they are appropriate candidates for ERT. For example, ERT should not be used by women who are or may be pregnant. Estrogen therapy has been associated with an increased risk of cancer of the uterus. Women should tell their doctors if they have had cancer of the breast or uterus, unusual vaginal bleeding, abnormal blood clotting or any cardiovascular disease. Common side effects of the patch are skin irritation and itching at the application site, which, in most cases, are mild. Headache, breast tenderness and fluid retention have also been reported with estrogen use.
- Tablets: Oral estrogens have been available for more than 50 years. The most common oral estrogens are conjugated equine estrogen tablets; oral estrogen products made from synthetic estrogens are also available. Women generally take one tablet daily as prescribed by their physicians.
- Skin Patches: Estrogen transdermal patches have been available since 1986. VivelleŠ (estradiol transdermal system), one of the latest forms of ERT, is a transdermal patch that utilizes an advanced type of technology which allows for a patch that is small, thin, flexible and translucent. The self-adhesive Vivelle patch is applied twice-weekly to either the buttocks or abdomen, where it delivers estradiol, the primary estrogen produced by the ovaries, through the skin directly into the bloodstream.
- Creams: Since the early 1980s, vaginal creams have been available for the symptomatic relief of vulval and vaginal discomfort. Applied locally for a few days a week, creams relieve vaginal dryness. In comparison to other forms of ERT, vaginal creams have a relatively low absorption rate into the circulatory system.
For a free booklet on menopause and an unmedicated sample of the Vivelle patch, call 1-800-758-2422 ext. PR96.(NAPSI)
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