Opting for Estrogen

Opting for Estrogen (<i>cont'd</i>)

The side effect from HRT that women find most annoying is menstrual-like bleeding, but a new HRT is available that stops it, Carcio said. Taking estrogen and progesterone together every day helps prevent bleeding as well as manage other menopause symptoms.

Estrogen comes in both pill and nonpill forms. Women can wear a skin patch that releases estrogen into their blood, or they can apply an estrogen cream to the vaginal area to help stop dryness. An estrogen ring inserted in the vagina puts the hormone where some women feel they need it most.

Finally, women can take medications other than estrogen that address individual menopausal symptoms or conditions. Certain drugs treat just hot flashes, for example. A new drug, raloxifene hydrochloride, acts like estrogen in parts of the body. It helps prevent osteoporosis and may decrease the risk of heart disease and breast cancer, but it does nothing for hot flashes or vaginal dryness.

To help improve sex drive, women are trying the hormone testosterone. Wearing testosterone patches may improve sexual and psychological well-being in women who are in surgical menopause due to total hysterectomy or removal of the ovaries, researchers report in the Sept. 7, 2000, New England Journal of Medicine. Your ovaries produce about half of your testosterone. The rest comes from the adrenal glands.

However, taking too much testosterone can have serious side effects, and the "safety of taking testosterone for extended periods of time has not been established," according to the North American Menopause Society's Menopause Guidebook.

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