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What Is Natural Estrogen?

A woman who is at the beginning stage of menopause may experience heavier periods than usual.
Natural estrogen replacement therapy can be used to alleviate the symptoms associated with menopause.
Natural estrogen cream.
Older women may have an estrogen deficiency as they begin menopause.
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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 18 December 2014
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Women going through menopause, the period of life when the menstrual cycle ends, produce the reproductive hormone estrogen at much lower levels than during their fertile period. Because the decline in estrogen and other reproductive hormones causes changes in the body, some women choose to take estrogen supplements to alleviate the symptoms associated with menopause. Unfortunately, traditional estrogen supplements are synthetic, processed in a laboratory from substances foreign to the human body, and are associated with a number of dangerous side effects, notably breast cancer. Natural estrogen replacement therapy is a newer option that many women and physicians consider to be safer and gentler on the body. It is important to note that menopause is a natural stage of life, not an illness, and not every woman requires hormone replacement therapy during menopause.

The most commonly prescribed form of estrogen replacement is conjugated equine estrogen, which is synthesized from pregnant mare's urine. It has been in use since the 1950s. In addition to the three forms of estrogen naturally occurring in the human body -- estradiol, estrone, and estriol -- conjugated equine estrogen also contains equilin, an estrogen molecule specific to horses whose effects on the human body is unknown. Possible side effects of conjugated equine estrogen include heart attack, stroke, breast cancer, and deep vein thrombosis.

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Natural estrogen, also called bioidentical estrogen, has recently appeared as an alternative to conjugated equine estrogen, and other synthetic formulas. It contains only the naturally occurring human estrogen molecules estradiol, estrone, and estriol. While synthetic estrogen supplements are most often taken orally, natural estrogen is more often administered through transdermal patch or as a cream. Many proponents of natural estrogen replacement therapy believe that many of the side effects associated with traditional hormone replacement therapy may be due to taking the supplements orally. Oral estrogens also carry a higher risk of blood clotting than transdermal estrogens.

While some studies have suggested that natural estrogen does not carry the same risks as conjugated equine estrogen, such as blood clots, natural estrogen is a relatively new technology, and there is less information available from studies. The largest problem with natural estrogen supplements is that they are not currently regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many of the claims pharmacists make about their natural estrogen products are unsubstantiated. Natural estradiol and progesterone, another reproductive hormone often used in hormone replacement therapy, are both available in FDA-approved products, however.

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mantra
Post 3

@jellies- Has your mom tried any natural estrogen? There are quite a few plants that contain phytoestrogen. It acts like weak estrogen in the body. The phytoestrogen substances actually bond to estrogen receptors in the body. This is how they react the same, only in a weaker form.

Some of the foods containing natural estrogens include beans, pumpkin, carrots, cherries, yams, pomegranates, alfalfa, and dates. There are also herbs which have an estrogenic effect. Some of these are Sarsparilla, Sage, Black Cohosh, Red Clover, and Dong Qui.

Of course, anyone would want to be sure and consult their doctor before changing the way they take prescriptions. Herbs can interact with medications, too. If you have a natural food store around your town, it’s worth looking into.

Andras
Post 2

When I was pregnant, I was concerned about eating soy products. I love edamame, which is the soy bean in the pod. But, eating too much soy can alter your estrogen levels. I figured the last thing I needed was more estrogen while I was pregnant!

As if that wasn’t enough to be concerned about, I had to switch my daughter to formula when she was three months old. We tried regular formula and eventually ended up having to try something else. At six months, we tried using soy formula because of her lactose sensitivity. I was really worried soy would be bad for her.

What would happen to her estrogen levels by drinking so much soy formula? I talked to our nurse as well as the woman at my local WIC office. The WIC director explained that the soy formula was harmless when given for the relatively short amount of time we would need it.

jellies
Post 1

My mom has had ongoing problems with low estrogen because she is going through menopause. Her doctor recently put her on bioidentical hormones. The come in a tray and are kind of like chewy candy in consistency. She says they taste like something much worse than candy, though.

One of the interesting things about her hormone replacement therapy is they are mixed in the pharmacy specifically for her. The full dose causes her to have a menstrual cycle. She takes half the dose because of this, but as a result she still has some hot flashes. My mom has not had any other problems with the bioidentical hormones.

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