Estrogen (or Oestrogen) is an important component in a woman’s life. Referred to as the primary female sex hormone, estrogen has great role to play in menstrual and estrous reproductive cycles of a woman. Estrogen is used in vivid areas as in oral contraceptives, therapy for post menopause and hormone replacement therapy. It has a significant role to play in her mood and wellness besides several things.
Estrogen is either used alone or along with another hormone (progestin) and generally does not cause chronic or serious side effects. However, you should always consult a doctor before administering estrogen in any form. Important side effects of estrogen, both favorable and unfavorable, have been outlined below.
Favorable Side Effects
Estrogen can delay the loss of skin collagen and prove beneficial for the skin. It can considerably affect skin health and hair follicles (including the sebaceous gland). Usage of estrogen can alleviate the changes due to aging on the skin.
Estrogen can reduce fractures and benefit bone health. As long as estrogen is administered, the bones are stronger. This benefit is irrespective of whether progestin is accompanied with estrogen in treatment. Estrogen is likely to benefit women wanting to treat (or prevent) osteoporosis. An expert suggests starting implementing it within ten years of menopause.
Estrogen is considered an effective (and the only) treatment for hot flashes linked to menopause. It may also produce favorable outcomes in treating vaginal atrophy and Alzheimer’s disease in women. Unlike common belief, estrogens do not lead to weight gain. A study showed that women who used estrogen revealed lesser gain in weight and waist girth.
Unfavorable Side Effects
Administration of estrogen can increase the risk of endometrial cancer. Post menopause, women may also experience cancer of the ovaries owing to usage of estrogen. Accompanied with progestin, estrogen can also increase the risk for breast cancer.
When used with progestin, estrogen can increase the risk of heart diseases. Women can be at risk for heart attack and stroke when using this combination in some form. There is also risk for development of clots with estrogen usage.
A study showed that sudden heart arrest can occur due to increased levels of estrogen in women. The study also focused on the low ratio of testosterone-to-estrogen besides high levels of estrogen in both men ad women.
Estrogen can cause thrombophlebitis, particularly during the initial year of treatment. This is due to increase in some of the proteins (clotting). Estrogens may better be avoided in women having a history of coagulopathy.
However, single episode of thrombophlebitis linked to surgery or pregnancy may be exception. The likelihood of thrombophlebitis can increase with age.
There are both positive and negative outcomes of using estrogen. Actually, the side effects of using estrogen are complicated. In the case of heart related outcomes, evidence shows that estrogens can enhance HDL and lower LDL cholesterol. Younger women can actually benefit from taking estrogen (when taken alone).
Much depends upon the dose and period of estrogen administration. It is recommended to use this in minimum dosage and for the shortest duration and only under expert supervision. Regular examinations and follow-ups may be indispensable during the course of administration of estrogen.