Too little estrogen can cause numerous problems for women, and unless they know that the symptoms they are experiencing could be related to an estrogen deficiency they may never find out.
What does estrogen do?
Estrogen is plays a role in quite a few things that everyone would consider essential. Men have estrogen too for them, the hormone regulates libido, among a few other things. But let's talk about women, now. Estrogen makes its appearance at puberty, when its helps the girl's sexual development, including kick-starting her menstrual periods. Estrogen creates the endometrium, the lining of the uterus in which an embryo implants after conception. It also supports the vagina and prevents vaginal dryness during menopause. Then, there are the things that have nothing to do with menstruation, sex or reproduction but that are still pretty essential. Estrogen lifts your mood, has anti-aging properties, helps prevent a heart attack (that is why women have a much lower chance of having one), and slows bone loss. Estrogen lowers cholesterol, increases moisture in the skin, and actually does a lot for brain function too. Especially memory. Finally, estrogen increases the sensitivity of progesterone receptors, thus aiding the functioning of that other essential female hormone. Estrogen is, in other words, pretty darn important. What would happen if you had a deficiency? Let's take a look at that next.
The symptoms of an estrogen deficiency
Every woman must know a little bit about the menopause symptoms. This is a time in which estrogen levels drop rapidly, so you will see a lot of estrogen deficiency symptoms there. Think hot flashes/hot flushes, night sweats, headaches and migraines, and extreme fatigue. Forgetfulness, mild depression and anxiety, and trouble concentrating other other menopause symptoms that are actually caused by the drop in estrogen. Women who are deficient in estrogen may notice vaginal dryness, vaginal infection or urinary tract infections, and even incontinence (that one is pretty embarrassing!). Painful sexual intercourse, libido changes (mostly, a distinct lack of libido), and irregular bleeding are others. If you thought that was the end, you were unfortunately wrong. Estrogen plays a role in so many body systems that there are lots of symptoms in women who are deficient. You may have insomnia, an irregular heartbeat, and could even develop osteoporosis. It is worth noting that too much estrogen doesn't do any good, either. Such things as endometriosis, weight gain and thyroid problems are associated with that. And heavy periods. But that is another topic for another day.
When can vaginal estrogen cream help?
An estrogen deficiency can be treated in various ways once it is diagnosed. Oral medications are one route, while some women benefit more from using a vaginal estrogen cream. Such vaginal estrogen creams are absorbed into the blood stream through the vagina, and they are usually associated with fewer side effects than oral estrogen medications. These creams are available on prescription only. It is therefore needless to say that they should be taken under the supervision of your doctor. I'll do that anyway, since buying fertility-related meds online seems to be increasingly popular. Vaginal estrogen creams may work for you if:
- You suffer from vaginal dryness and itchiness.
- You have a sore vulva, vulvar itchiness, or redness.
- You experience pain when urinating, have frequent urinary tract infections, or need to urinate very frequently.
- Painful sexual intercourse is a problem for you.
Alternatives to vaginal creams for estrogen replacement therapy include estrogen patches, vaginal rings, and skin cream. These medications all have the advantage that they do not cross the liver and therefore cause less health damage than oral estrogen replacement therapy. Estrogen replacement therapy successfully helps reduce the estrogen deficiency symptoms in many women, but anyone considering it should also be aware of the side effects. Smokers should not take estrogen, because it increases their risk of a stroke, and estrogen replacement therapy has been associated with a higher breast cancer risk. Those are not all of the side effects by any means. Have a very serious benefits vs risks conversation with your doctor.