When you hear the word “estrogen,” what is your first thought? Hormone? Women? Right. Estrogens are the hormones most associated with the female reproduction system. There are a three types of estrogens (estrone, estradiol, and estriol) whose levels vary depending on whether the woman is in a regular state, pregnant, breastfeeding, or menopausal. Estrogens play a part in female reproductive diseases, disorders, and discomforts as well, and therefore, estrogen cream is used medicinally to try to alleviate some of the symptoms. Estrogen cream is the estradiol form of estrogen, and is absorbed vaginally by inserting it with an applicator. Commercial names are Estrace or Premarin.
Why Some Women Use Estrogen Cream
Estrogen helps to aid the vagina in becoming more elastic and moist, which in turn, decreases pain and discomfort. Your gynecologist might prescribe estrogen cream if you experience any of the following symptoms due to low estrogen levels:
Note that estrogen cream usage can take up to 3 months to become effective.
Possible Side Effects of Estrogen Cream
If used in small amounts (1/2 gram twice weekly), you will not likely experience any of the alarming side effects listed on the medication insert. A low-dose estrogen topical treatment is similar to a lotion for your vagina.
Immediate side effects of estrogen cream might include symptoms similar to PMS or early pregnancy, namely: bloating, breast tenderness, headache, nausea/vomiting or weight changes.
Estrogen cream is a form of HRT – Hormone Replacement Therapy. You may have heard about HRT, especially as it garnered a lot of press in the ’90s when it was determined to be a causative factor in breast cancer. Because estrogen is one of the hormones used in HRT, women understandably are concerned about any type of hormone replacement, such as estrogen creams. At the same time, not all types of HRT are created equal, and while you should be concerned about possible side effects, be aware that the risks might not be as high with each type of hormone replacement.
Alternatives to Estrogen Cream
Depending upon your situation and personal preference, you might be interested in other types of treatments which have the same or similar benefits as estrogen cream. These alternatives include the following:
Vaginal insertion allows for the lowest-dose release, reducing the risk of side effects in comparison with skin application or oral administering. So, when it comes to estrogen replacement therapy, one advantage of estrogen cream is that it is inserted vaginally. Speak to your gynecologist about the best option for you.