What is estrogen?
Estrogen is an entire class of related hormones. They include estriol, estradiol, and estrone. Estriol is made from the placenta. It is produced during pregnancy. Estradiol is the primary sex hormone of childbearing women. It is formed from developing ovarian follicles. Estradiol is responsible for female characteristics and sexual functioning. Also, estradiol is important to women's bone health. Estradiol contributes to most gynecologic problems such as endometriosis and fibroids and even female cancers. Estrone is widespread throughout the body. It is the only one of the estrogens that is present in any amount in women after menopause.
Menopause itself requires no medical treatment. Instead, treatments focus on relieving your signs and symptoms and on preventing or lessening chronic conditions that may occur with aging. Estrogen therapy remains, by far, the most effective treatment option for relieving menopausal hot flashes. Depending on your personal and family medical history, your doctor may recommend estrogen in the lowest dose needed to provide symptom relief for you.
Do estrogen levels fall at menopause?
Yes. Estrogen levels do fall at menopause. This is a natural transition for all women that occurs between ages 40 and 55. The decline in estrogen can happen abruptly in younger women whose ovaries are removed, resulting in a surgical menopause.
Treatment with hormones may be helpful if you have severe symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood issues, or vaginal dryness.
Menopause Symptoms Can Be Managed in Two Phases
In the first phase (for the short term), prevention of bone loss (osteoporosis) can begin along with estrogen treatment for menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. After the first phase, women should discuss the risks and benefits of continuing hormone therapy (for the long term) with their doctor. Remember that the short term goals of treatment are different from the long term goals. Short term therapy is designed to relieve symptoms; long term therapy helps to prevent bone loss. If you take hormones for less than three to five years, the risks are relatively low. If you are concerned about bone loss and are thinking about taking hormone therapy for more than five years, consult with your doctor to see whether hormone therapy or an alternative treatment is best for you.
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