Sunday, May 3, 2009

Estrogen Therapy

Estrogen therapy is widely used to treat women during menopause or women who have a deficiency of this hormone. Estrogen is available in various formulations such as pills, patches, creams or a gel. Estrogen therapy is very useful in the treatment of hot flashes and for dry thinning skin in and around the vagina.

Estrogen therapy is generally combined with progesterone but this is not always the case. There is some evidence that estrogen therapy when administered alone may increase the risk of uterine cancer. Therefore, in middle aged females, estrogen is almost always combined with progesterone. Estrogen can stimulate growth in the lining of uterus, but the growth is almost always disorganized and chaotic. Progesterone, on the other hand, can restore growth of the lining to an organized fashion and also prevents proliferation of the lining out of control.

Women who receive only estrogen therapy are generally closely followed by their physicians. In general, estrogen therapy alone is never prescribed for long periods of time.

Estrogen therapy has a lot of other medical benefits. There are many life extension purists who believe that estrogen therapy can prolong life, improve physical features of the body, and help maintain youth. Today, there are many life extension or anti aging organizations who routinely recommend use of estrogen as an anti aging remedy. Other medical benefits of estrogen therapy include the prevention of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is characterized by thin and brittle bones which become prone to fractures. Estrogen is known to stimulate bone growth and also increases mineralization. Estrogen therapy for osteoporosis is usually not recommended because of the risk of uterine or breast cancer. Instead, females are encouraged to take other alternative drugs to strengthen bone.

There is also a lot of evidence that estrogen therapy can help prevent heart attacks. Most women who are premenopausal almost never develop a heart attack. Heart attacks in females usually start to develop after menopause and this has been linked to a deficiency of estrogen. However, most physicians do not recommend estrogen therapy as a prophylaxis in preventing heart attacks.

Estrogen therapy has a lot of benefits but because of the risk of cancer most physicians are hesitant to recommend it for long term use. Any woman who wants to take estrogen therapy should discuss this issue with her health care provider. Most physicians do not have a hesitation in the short term prescribing estrogen therapy but there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to long term use.

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