Women approaching menopause as well as women who have already entered menopause have low levels of estrogen in their bodies. The effects of such hormonal imbalance affect the entire body but have definitely the most significant influence on bone tissue. Namely, loss of estrogen is directly linked to osteoporosis. In osteoporosis bones become thinner and one is prone to fracture even due to minor trauma. In severe cases of osteoporosis fractures can be even spontaneous.
Estrogen in known to promote the activity of osteoblasts, cells that actively engage in bone production. So, estrogen replacement therapy is a suitable option for women suffering from osteoporosis. However, prior to prescribing any of medications containing estrogen, doctors must evaluate health of the woman thoroughly and check whether there are some contraindications to such treatment.
Ways of Taking Estrogen
There are different ways of distributing this hormone to a woman's body. For instance, the hormone may be taken orally in a form of pill. Estrogen can be also absorbed from the skin and this is a way of distribution when using an adhesive patch.
The doctor recommends the type of estrogen drug and its form which suits the woman best.
Estrogen Therapy - The Effects
By increasing a woman's level of total estrogen in the body, estrogen therapy slows bone thinning and may even stimulate an increase in bone thickness.
This therapy can be preventive, prescribed to women who have not developed osteoporosis yet. It is also suggested for women in whom osteoporosis has occurred and progressed.
The positive effects also reflect in reduction of spontaneous bone fractures as well as fractures caused by minor trauma.
Side Effects of Estrogen
Even though estrogen is well tolerated some women may complain about headache, water retention and accompanied weight gain, swollen breast and several more problems.
One study has actually pointed to the connection between estrogen and higher incidence of stroke. Because of that many experts believe that estrogen should be prescribed only in women with a significant risk of osteoporosis, when benefits outweighs risks.
Estrogen is generally not prescribed to women who are having problems with uterine bleeding, those suffering from uterine cancer, undiagnosed breast lumps and women already confirmed to suffer from breast cancer. Furthermore, women with a positive family history of breast cancer are also never prescribed estrogen no matter how beneficial it can be for their bones. Finally, this therapy is not suitable for women with increased risk of blood clots.