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    Hormone Therapy: The Fundamentals

      |  Apr 26, 2023

    Estrogen, Progesterone, and your body

    Why are estrogen & progresterone important?

    Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that play vital roles in a woman's body. They're often associated with reproductive health, regulating menstruation and pregnancy, but their influence extends far beyond these functions. These hormones are essential for bone health, mood regulation, skin elasticity, cardiovascular health, and overall well-being. In short, they're integral to a woman's long-term health.

    Menopause: declining estrogen & progesterone

    As women age, natural levels of estrogen and progesterone decline. This is a normal part of aging, with the most dramatic drop occurring during menopause, which typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. The fluctuating and eventual lowering of these hormones can cause various physical and emotional changes, which we'll discuss later.


    Symptoms of low estrogen and progesterone due to menopause may include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, and loss of bone density. It's a progressive process, and symptoms can vary greatly between individuals.

    Hormone Replacement therapy: Is it safe?

    Now, here's a critical point to understand: just because menopause is a natural process doesn't mean its effects should be left unaddressed. There's a common misconception that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is "unnatural," but let's poke some holes in that thinking. Many aspects of modern healthcare could be considered "unnatural"—from antibiotics to surgeries—yet, we don't hesitate to avail them because they improve our quality of life and overall health. The same logic applies to HRT.

    How does HRT work?

    Menopausal HRT typically involves estrogen patches or compounded estrogen creams, combined with progesterone pills. The estrogen helps to alleviate symptoms caused by low estrogen levels, while the progesterone is important for those who still have their uterus, as it reduces the risk of uterine cancer.

    There's an important distinction to be made between compounded bi-estrogen (bi-est) and traditional estradiol patches. Bi-est is a mix of two types of estrogens—estradiol and estriol—usually prepared in a compounding pharmacy. Traditional patches, on the other hand, contain only estradiol. The choice between these two depends on individual needs and physician recommendations.

     It's essential to communicate any side effects to your clinician, as adjustments can be made to your treatment regimen to mitigate these issues. The benefits of HRT typically begin to emerge within a few weeks of starting treatment, but it can take a few months to fully experience the effects.