Estrogen is a chemical messenger with over 400 functions in the body. This hormone controls sexual and reproductive health. Estrogen receptors are located throughout the body because estrogen also has many non-reproductive functions - in the skeletal, cardiovascular and central nervous systems. Estrogen affects cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, muscle and bone mass, circulation and blood flow, collagen production and skin moisture, and brain function, including focus and memory. Estrogen also helps with serotonin formation, decreasing depression, irritability, anxiety and pain sensitivity.

The body makes 3 types of estrogen - estrone (E1), estradiol (E2) and estriol (E3). E1 is the main estrogen made after menopause. E2 is the most potent estrogen, protecting bone, heart and brain health. E3 helps maintain pregnancy and controls symptoms of menopause.

Menopause typically happens between ages 35 and 55. Unfortunately it is unpredictable and varies individually. It can happen over months in some and years in others. Hormones tend to fluctuate and can leave one feeling like they are on a rollercoaster. It usually starts with drops in levels of testosterone and progesterone, with estrogen being preserved. Unfortunately this can lead to a relative estrogen dominance (not being balanced by progesterone) which causes weight gain, mood swings, poor sleep, breast tenderness and heavy cycles. It can also lead to hypothyroidism and increase the risk of breast cancer. Other symptoms of menopause include night sweats, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, panic attacks and urinary symptoms.

Bioidentical hormone replacement is the best way to treat menopause. These compounds are custom created in a pharmacy with natural hormones that the body produces and recognizes. Synthetic hormones don’t produce optimal signals to the body and should be avoided. Estrogen should not be taken orally as it can increase blood pressure, elevate liver enzymes, cause gallstones, decrease testosterone and cause blood clots. Replacement of estrogen is best with a mixture of E2 and E3 that is compounded in a base cream applied to skin (upper inner thigh) daily. Taking hormones through the skin means they go directly to the target organs and avoid liver metabolism. This allows optimal results with lower doses of hormones.