Estrogen Replacement Therapy Pros and Cons

Once a woman has passed through menopause, her ovaries no longer produce eggs, additionally less estrogen is produced. Often, in order to help women though menopause and some of its side effects, estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is used. During ERT regular doses of estrogen are taken in combination with progesterone, which helps to reduce the risk of cancer of the uterus, for women who still have their uterus, once they have reached menopause. Estrogen replacement therapy is given as a tablet, a cream, a shot, a vaginal suppository or as a skin patch. Estrogen replacement therapy has many benefitsin in reducing the symtoms of menopause. These can include severe hot flashes where there is profuse sweating, the flashes can occur for several months or even a few years; severe problems with sleeping and various sleep disturbances; and vaginal dryness where the vagina becomes dry and its tissues shrink, this can cause pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse.

Estrogen replacement therapy can also be used to help prevent and treat osteoporosis, which reduces bone density and can make a woman more prone to fractures. Calcium supplements can also help with osteoporosis, but estrogen replacement therapy has been found to be a better solution. Estrogen replacement therapy can also help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, so it has a number of benefits.

Other pros of estrogen replacement therapy include lowering the risk of colon cancer and the risk of macular degeneration, which is a condition of the eye in which the macular, the part of the retina at the back of the eye that provides sharp central vision, becomes deteriorated as one ages. Resulting in the loss of central vision.

Estrogen replacement therapy can also increase the levels of collagen in the skin. This helps with the stretching of skin and muscles. It also reduces the risk of having dental problems that could result in gum disease or loss of teeth. Estrogen replacement therapy has been shown to improve the levels of cholesterol in the blood by raising the levels of good cholesterol and lowering the levels of bad cholesterol. This is more of a side benefit of the treatment.

There are some very well-known cons to taking estrogen replacement therapy. There is a higher risk of endometrial cancer, particularly if the therapy does not include progesterone along with estrogen. Exposure of the lining of the uterus known as the endometrium to estrogen without progesterone, for long periods of time, can lead to a higher risk of getting endometrial cancer. There can also be an increased risk of getting blood clots, stroke, disease of the gall bladder and an increase in blood pressure. There have been some studies done that show that estrogen replacement therapy can also increase one’s risk of breast cancer with the cancers being larger and more invasive. Women who are on estrogen replacement therapy are encouraged by their doctors to have mammograms done on a yearly basis and to examine themselves monthly. Estrogen replacement therapy is also known to potentially cause an increased risk of dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.

There other cons to estrogen replacement therapy that include potential side effects. These may be bleeding of the uterus and a discharge from the vagina; fluid retention, bloating and weight gain; tenderness and enlargements of the breasts; nausea; spotting or darkening of the skin, particularly on the face; symptoms similar to premenstrual stress such as mood swings and headaches; and an increased risk of gall stones if the medication is taken orally.

If you are seriously considering estrogen replacement therapy you should consult with her doctor, to determine if it is an appropriate treatment, for you. It is a therapy that is effective, but really isn’t for everyone. A careful consultation with your doctor will take you through all of the pros and cons, and of course, your medical record will be considered.


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