Possible Side Effects of Estrogen Replacement Therapy
The use of estrogen replacement has been well documented for providing women with a way of replenishing declining hormone levels, however, it is not without certain risks. Due to some of these risk factors, women with previous history of breast cancer, or those who have a higher chance of developing this condition, as well as concerns regarding blood clots, stroke, endometrial and cervical cancers, and heart disease should not use this form of hormone replacement. These risks are not the same thing as the possible side effects of estrogen therapy that some women may face.
Women who have reached the postmenopausal stage are at a two to three times greater risk of gallbladder disease incidence. Long-term use of estrogen replacement may result in a higher chance of developing liver tumors or cancer, glucose intolerance, high blood pressure, sensitivity to sun exposure, and greater than normal levels of calcium in the bloodstream.
Another side effect of estrogen applied vaginally as a cream is uterine bleeding. Some women have reported vaginal discharge, as well. The majority of medications prescribed by doctors carry some form of risk or side effects. That should not stop someone from using a drug that can be of benefit in some way. By eliminating as many risk factors as possible, the administration of medication can be carried out in a safer manner. That is why most doctors will not prescribe estrogen replacement therapy to women at a higher risk of adverse reactions.
List of Possible Side Effects
The risks factors pointed out in the previous section were just that – potentially dangerous conditions that could occur as a result of receiving estrogen replacement. Side effects are entirely different, and at their worst, are typically just bothersome to the individual. Of course, even the most harmless side effects could create problems over a period of time, so it is essential to let the doctor know about any changes associated with this treatment.
In some cases, the doctor may lower the dosage of medication so that the unwanted side effects subside. In other instances, they will often go away on their own within a few weeks as the body adjusts to the hormone replacement treatment.
Here are the most commonly seen estrogen therapy side effects to be mindful of when beginning treatment:
- Abdominal Cramps
- Breast Tenderness
- Loss of Appetite
- Nausea and/or Vomiting
- Edema – Swelling of the Legs and Ankles
- Water Retention
- Weight Changes
Some less common side effects of estrogen replacement therapy include:
- Bleeding Gums
- Dry Eyes that Can Effect Contact Lens Wearers
- Hair Loss
- Menstrual Flow Changes
- Menstrual Pain
- Mild Diarrhea
- Sex Drive Changes
- Uterine Fibroids
- Vaginal Bleeding
- Vaginal Infection – Candida
There are some extremely rare side effects of taking estrogen, and these warrant contacting the doctor immediately:
- Chest Pains
- Difficulty Breathing
- Leg Pains
- Slurred speech
- Sudden urination
- Vision changes
Along with the side effects of estrogen, there are some drug interactions associated with the use of this treatment. It is essential to alert the doctor to any and all medications that are being taken before beginning estrogen therapy.
The possibility of estrogen side effects is greater in women who smoke and are over the age of thirty-five. For these women, as well as those mentioned in the first section who may not be candidates for estrogen therapy, treatment with supplemental testosterone and an estrogen blocker may be the better alternative.
For more information about both estrogen and testosterone therapies for women, their benefits, and side effects, as well as other possible hormone replacement treatments that might be beneficial, contact the medical experts at National HRT® for answers. Blood testing and treatment options are available to women and men throughout the US.