Oestrogen is a hormone associated with women, but is actually produced by both male and females. In women, oestrogen affects the female reproductive system, heart, bones, brain and other parts of the body. ERT, or Estrogen Replacement Therapy, is used to supplement oestrogen loss or lack of hormone production during menopause. Oestrogen is also used as part of HRT, Hormone Replacement Therapy, combined with progesterone.
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Understand the uses for oestrogen. During menopause and perimenopause, oestrogen reduces hot flushes, vaginal dryness and reduces sleep problems. Oestrogen helps prevent bone loss and works with vitamins and minerals to build bones ERT is also used for delayed onset of puberty, endocrine and mood disorders, conception problems, vaginal atrophy and low sex drive.
Know the type of oestrogen you want to buy. Oestrogen is available in both prescription and non-prescription sources. Both types of oestrogen have been studied and have varied results as to their safety. In 2004, the Women's Health Initiative Study found increased risk in stroke and blood clots from the use of prescription oestrogen. Until long-term studies are done, testing bio-identical (natural) hormones, it is too early to claim that one type has less risk than the other. Many people seeking symptomatic relief for menopausal symptoms prefer the non-prescription alternative.
Choose the type of oestrogen delivery system best suited for your personal needs. Prescription oestrogen is available as an oral contraceptive, patches, sprays, vaginal rings and a hormone-containing intrauterine device (IUD). Most combination oral contraceptives contain between 20 to 50mcg (micrograms) of oestrogen.
Find the right source of non-prescription oestrogen. Types of natural oestrogen include estrone , estradiol, estriol and estetrol, according to best selling author Dr. Ray Sahelian. Phytoestrogens are a group of plant-derived compounds that have the oestrogen activity of estradiol. According to the Mayo Clinic, Black Cohosh has been used as a HRT for menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes, mood disturbances, palpitations and vaginal dryness. Anise, dong quai, fennel, liquorice, red clover, Siberian ginseng and wild yam are natural oestrogen sources.
Find oestrogen in your food. Phytoestrogens are found in soybeans, tofu, miso, flaxseeds, pomegranates and dates. The British medical journal, The Lancet, reported that Japanese women consume many more phytonutrients in their diets and have far fewer symptoms of menopause than Western women.
Buy natural forms of oestrogen at your local health food store or online vitamin merchants. Oestrogen is available in tablet and capsule form and can cost from £6 to £19 a bottle. Be sure to look for pharmaceutical quality supplements since the standards fluctuate. Price usually reflects quality, but not always.
Tips and warnings
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, spicy food and sugar as they can trigger hot flushes. Regular, moderate exercise has a positive effect on hormones.
- Thyroid problems are linked to oestrogen levels, according to Dr. Eric Berg of the Health and Wellness Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Because oestrogen can damage the liver and 80 per cent of the conversion of the thyroid hormones (from T4 to T3) occurs in the liver, your thyroid problems could actually be caused by oestrogen levels affecting your liver.
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