Medically reviewed by: Cynthia Krause, MD
As women approach menopause, fluctuations and drop in ovarian hormones—particularly estrogen—can cause an array of uncomfortable and life disrupting symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and pain during sex.
The good news? Evidence shows that hormone therapy (HT) is the most effective therapy to manage the vasomotor symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. HT can also help mitigate other menopausal symptoms, including mood and sleep changes, brain fog, and low libido.
What is estrogen therapy?
Estrogen therapy, generally called hormone therapy (HT) when combined with a progestogen, is an effective treatment for menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms.
There are several types of estrogen made by the body that can be supplemented, including estrone (made primarily in the fat tissue), estradiol (the most potent estrogen present in the body before menopause made by the ovaries), and estriol (the weakest estrogen, primarily present during pregnancy).
Most women can safely begin taking estrogen therapy once they are in perimenopause or menopause and are displaying the symptoms of reduced or fluctuating estrogen. Your doctor can help you determine your eligibility based on your symptoms and some other key questions about your medical history. If your symptoms are bothering you, estrogen therapy is well worth considering given its efficacy at diminishing menopause symptoms.
What is an estrogen patch and why would I need it?
An estrogen patch is a form of estrogen therapy used to manage symptoms associated with menopause. The hormone from the patch is absorbed through the skin and into the body to prevent and manage symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. If you’re looking for a way to manage and treat symptoms associated with menopause, the estrogen patch may be right for you.
Benefits of the estrogen patch
For many women, finding the right HT can be confusing, given that most menopause hormone therapies, including those at Evernow, are available in the form of a patch, pill, or cream. What’s more, some women may require estrogen-only therapy, while others will require a combination of estrogen and progesterone.
At Evernow, we help find the right form of HT for you. Still, there are some general benefits of using the estrogen patch:
- More direct form of estrogen delivery. In a 2017 study, researchers found that women on the estrogen patch had a ratio of estradiol to estrone (the two types of estrogen hormone) that was nearly identical to the ratio before menopause. Additionally, estradiol from patches is absorbed from the skin directly into the bloodstream. What’s more, when given an equal dose, the concentration of free estradiol in the blood of women using the patch was twice that of those who used the pill.
- It may significantly improve your libido. The same 2017 study also measured Female Sexual Function Inventory (FSFI) and found that women using the patch had a 7.2% improvement in their scores while the women using the oral estrogen experienced a smaller effect. Most notably, at 18 months women on the patch experienced significant improvement in vaginal lubrication, pain during sex, and overall libido and desire. When compared with oral estrogen, the primary benefits were an increase in arousal and desire.
- It may also help protect against Alzheimers. One early research study suggests that estrogen patch may have a beneficial impact on cognitive biomarkers in comparison with the pill form of estrogen or placebos. Though more research is required to determine this relationship, data from the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) found that women who received the estrogen patch had the highest maintenance of brain volume in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that helps with memory, thinking, planning, and reasoning. These women were also more likely to have a lower amount of the amyloid plaque deposits that are related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Is the menopause patch safe?
Yes, both the pill and the patch have been shown to be safe and effective treatments for the symptoms of menopause. But when comparing the two, one study that followed 54,000 women for one year found that those who used estrogen patches were one-third less likely to develop blood clots in their legs or lungs.
Though there are some unique benefits of the estrogen patch, the science is clear: hormone therapy is safe and effective at providing relief from menopause symptoms, regardless of the form of delivery.
Are there any risks or side effects to keep in mind?
The estrogen patch isn’t right for everyone. It’s also important to keep in mind that there is a small increased risk of breast cancer with hormone therapy after 3-4 years of use, regardless of risk factors.
Additionally, women with certain medical conditions or predispositions will need to be assessed more closely by a medical provider to determine their eligibility for HT, and type of HT. These risk factors are highly personalized and vary depending on a woman’s age, her individual medical history.
A personal history of the following conditions could put you at risk for vascular complications on HT:
- Breast or uterine cancer
- Certain heart or vascular conditions—such as blood clots, stroke, heart attack, coronary heart disease, or uncontrolled hypertension.
- Liver disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
Screening for these risk factors is a standard part of the assessment for HT eligibility and treatment. Evernow’s intake consultation process includes careful screening for risk factors.
How Evernow can help
You know your body best, and Evernow knows menopause treatments. If you choose to try out hormone therapies, we will guide you through the process to ensure that you’re a candidate, and that you have the treatment best tailored to you.
If you’re interested in finding out whether hormone therapy is right for you, click here.
- Effects of Oral vs Transdermal Estrogen Therapy on Sexual Function in Early Postmenopause. (2017). https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2652573
- Estrogen. (2021). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538260/
- Hormone Replacement Therapy. (2020). https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/docs/Hormone-Replacement-Therapy.pdf