Estrogen and Aging

Estrogen is one of the most studied hormones. It helps to regulate menstruation and pregnancy in women before menopause. Some believe that treating women with estrogen therapies may erase some of the effects of aging. Many more use estrogen to treat the side effects of menopause. Find out more about the research and need for estrogen supplementation.

Estrogen and Menopause

After menopause, estrogen levels drop suddenly.

Many of the symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, are caused by this drop in estrogen. The drop in estrogen may also be linked to loss of bone strength in women.

Estrogen Replacement

Starting in the 1950s, it became common for women to take estrogen supplements to control the symptoms of menopause. Through the years, estrogen replacement therapy has become more sophisticated. Now doctors may prescribe several different hormones to prevent negative side effects of using estrogen alone. This is called menopausal hormone replacement therapy (MHT), which some people also call hormone replacement therapy (HRT). One of the hormones commonly combined with estrogen is progesterone (a synthetic form). This combination helps to keep the uterus healthier and prevent problems, like endometriosis.

Research on Estrogen and Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy (MHT)

There have been many excellent studies done on the long-term effects of MHT on health.

The research has made the decision to use estrogen-based supplementation very complex. Researchers thought they would see a decrease in the risk of heart disease in women taking MHT. The results of a long-term study, in fact, showed a slight increase in the risk of heart disease, stroke, and blood clots but a decrease in the risk of hip fractures.

Research results are unclear about whether MHT helps in protecting against dementia.

What makes things complicated is that most of the studies have been done in women with an average age of 65. There is little data about short-term use of MHT to address the symptoms of menopause in younger women.

Current Recommendation

The FDA currently recommends that MHT be used in the smallest dose possible for the shortest amount of time. Discuss MHT and estrogen with your doctor.

Sources:

National Institute on Aging. National Institutes of Health. Pills, Patches and Shots: Can Hormones Prevent Aging? National Institute on Aging. National Institutes of Health. Hormones and Menopause FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Menopause and Hormones.

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