As we get older, our bodies undergo several different changes. Many of these changes are the result of hormones, and one of the hormones that are responsible for these changes is estrogen. Estrogen plays a crucial role in nearly all of the processes that are unique to women, including menstruation, reproduction and sexual characteristics.
Let’s take a closer look at why estrogen is such a critical hormone, why some women may be estrogen deficient, and why an estrogen cream may be helpful.
What is Estrogen?
Estrogen is a critically important hormone that is produced by the female body. Estrogen production begins around the time of puberty, and it plays a key role in many processes including menstruation, reproduction, and the development of secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts.
What Does Estrogen Do?
Estrogen is essential for many different processes, perhaps the most important of which is its role in the reproductive system.
During puberty, the release of this hormone helps the vagina to reach its adult size and develop fully. It also helps to thicken the vaginal wall and strengthens or improves the function of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Estrogen also works to create a pH balance in the vagina which allows the organ to fight off bacterial infections.
This hormone also plays a key role in the development of a woman’s shape. The release of estrogen helps to shorten bones, broaden the pelvic area and make the shoulders more narrow. It also increases the amount of fat around the hips and thighs, which lends women their curvy shape.
Estrogen is also responsible for shortening the vocal cords, which is the reason why women tend to have a higher pitched voice than males do.
Beyond the physical effects of estrogen, it also helps to regulate other processes in the body. For example, it helps to regulate our body temperature, improves the appearance of our skin and works to make our bones stronger and more durable.
As you can see, this hormone is critical to a woman’s development and well being. When there is an estrogen deficiency, there are several side effects which can affect your health.
How Low Estrogen Can Affect You
If you’re estrogen deficient, there are many different ways your body can be affected.
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes
- Night Sweats
- Difficulty sleeping
- Decreased libido
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal dryness
- Depression and anxiety
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of osteoporosis
Not all women dealing with low estrogen will suffer from all of the effects above. Regardless, these side effects can be frustrating and may affect how you live your life. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available which can lessen or eliminate the effects above.
Why Do Some Women Have Low Estrogen?
Several reasons may affect the amount of estrogen the body produces.
The first and most common cause of low estrogen is menopause. When a woman goes through menopause, less estrogen and other hormones which control the menstrual cycle and reproductive system are produced.
By the time a woman enters her 50s, the amount of estrogen produced by the body dramatically decreases and continues to decrease until no estrogen is produced at all. This marks the end of menopause. This process can start before age 50 due to various other conditions as well as family history based on the age when other women in the family went through the changes themselves.
Menopause is a part of the aging process, and every woman will go through it. There are also some other reasons why a woman may be dealing with low estrogen.
A hysterectomy can affect estrogen production, usually short term but sometimes long term as well. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation will also decrease estrogen production. The production of this hormone can also be affected by other factors, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, ovarian failure, certain medications, and anorexia.
Treating Low Estrogen
Fortunately, there is a range of different treatment options available to treat low estrogen. The types of treatment and the benefits they offer are varied, so you’ll need to consult with your doctor to not only decide if hormone replacement therapy is right for you, but also which form of this treatment will provide the most significant benefit.
Hormone replacement therapy has many forms. These medications are available as pills, topical creams, patches, ointments and even vaginal implants. While some of these options are better suited to treat certain symptoms than others, each kind helps to restore the balance of estrogen in the body.
Many of these treatment options are designed to treat the side effects associated with estrogen. On the other hand, topical creams, ointments, and estrogen inserts are intended primarily to reduce or eliminate the reproductive side effects associated with low estrogen.
Hormone Replacement Therapy Cream
Estrogen creams are often prescribed to limit or eliminate side effects such as vaginal dryness, soreness, and pain during sex. These treatments are administered topically in the vaginal area.
Unlike other treatment options, a hormone replacement therapy cream won’t help protect you from osteoporosis, or many of the symptoms associated with menopause. However, you can take a hormone cream for dryness, vaginal soreness and pain during sex.
Is Topical Hormone Cream Right For You?
If you’re unsure, consulting with your physician is an easy way to determine the best course of treatment for you. If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms or sexual side effects we’ve discussed, low estrogen may be the cause.
One of estrogen’s job is to promote and facilitate vaginal health. It helps to thicken vaginal walls, as well as maintain a healthy the urethra, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries. When there isn’t enough estrogen present, this can leave you vulnerable to the issues we’ve been discussing.
By supplementing the amount of estrogen in your body, you may be able to restore your hormone levels, which may eliminate your side effects.
Who Should Avoid Estrogen Medications
The majority of women can take estrogen drugs to relieve their symptoms, but some people should avoid hormone replacement medications. There is a chance that these medicines may interact with other drugs you’re taking. There are also certain women that may have an adverse reaction to the estrogen. Also, women with a personal or family history of breast cancer should try to avoid estrogen if possible due an increased risk of developing a new or recurrent breast cancer.
For example, anyone who is pregnant, or breastfeeding should avoid taking estrogen. Those with heart or kidney conditions, asthma, epilepsy, or several other conditions should consult with their doctor regarding any additional risks with estrogen treatments.
If you’re dealing with any medical conditions, let your doctor know before beginning treatment so he or she can advise you on whether or not estrogen treatment is right for you.
How to Use Estrogen Creams
Before applying any sort of topical cream, wash and dry your hands thoroughly. Apply the cream only as directed by your doctor, and avoid any contact with the eyes. For some users, it can take 2 to 4 weeks to realize the benefits of the treatment fully, and the dose may need to be adjusted several times. If you’re experiencing any serious side effects from the use of this medicine, discontinue use right away and speak with your physician.
During your treatment, consult with your doctor regularly in case any adjustments in your medication are required. After that, be sure to meet with your doctor on a yearly basis to identify any changes.
Other Treatment Options
For women who are experiencing side effects beyond sexual and reproductive ones, there are additional treatments you may wish to look into. For some women, these medications may be a better choice, since they can address all of the side effects of low estrogen, in addition to the ones that a topical cream can treat.
Cause For Concern
Hormone replacement therapy has been a popular way to ease the symptoms of menopause and other hormonal conditions since the 1940’s. For years, researchers have studied the safety and potential side effects of these drugs.
Recently, some studies have suggested that there may be a link between hormone therapies and an increased risk for cancer and other conditions. These studies have suggested that hormone therapies like the ones we’ve discussed could lead to the development of certain types of cancers, particularly endometrial and breast cancer.
Because of these risks it is important to limit the use of hormone therapies and consider the benefits and risks in light of your quality of life and activity level.
Generally, it’s best to take the lowest possible effective dose of hormones. That way, you’ll achieve the benefit you’re looking for while also mitigating the risk for any potential complications from the medication.
As always, consult with your physician to determine the best course of treatment for your needs.
Many different factors can influence the hormonal balance in your body. For some women, supplementing their bodies natural supply of hormones with medications such as an estrogen cream may be necessary.
These types of treatment can provide relief from many of the symptoms associated with low estrogen or menopause. While these treatments may not be right for everyone, many women rely on estrogen medications to relieve a range of different sexual, reproductive and menopausal symptoms.
Before beginning a hormone therapy drug, you should consult with your doctor to develop a plan for treatment that is best for your needs.