Transdermal Bioidentical Estradiol: I May Try It
I never thought I would be saying this, but I have an appointment with my gynecologist next week to discuss a prescription for a transdermal bioidentical estradiol (an estrogen).
The last time I saw her she offered it to me after my examination. Apparently, I was showing signs of vaginal atrophy, and she thought I might benefit from it. But, I politely declined—what with all my ranting around here, at my personal blog, and other places about the terrible symptoms of perimenopause associated with estrogen dominance and all of the horrible, potential side-effects from estrogen therapy. Why, I would feel like a hypocrite!
How could I face you all?
There are some hardcore naturalists out there who are adamantly opposed to hormone replacement therapy of any kind—synthetic or bioidentical. To that crowd (and I know a few of them personally) your body is in a natural passage when you enter perimenopause, and the decline in estrogen and other hormones once you reach menopause is considered a normal part of the process which shouldn’t be interfered with.
Okay, I get that, and I would probably sign up for that position if the decline in estrogen and other hormones didn’t have such a deleterious effect on our bodies. Too little estrogen is as unhealthy as too much estrogen. Depression, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, thinning of the vaginal walls and surrounding tissue, even urinary incontinence are all associated with low estrogen levels, and are common complaints among women in menopause.
For me personally, it is chronic joint pain, struggles with depression, brain fog, short-term memory issues (both associated with low estrogen levels), and over-whelming fatigue which are compelling me to consider it.
I won’t lie. I’m nervous about it. There is a history of breast cancer in my family. My eighty-something year old mother was diagnosed with it three years ago. Thanks to her nearly complete lack of estrogen, she was able to have it treated effectively, and is now cancer free.
So I don’t take this lightly, and I’m certainly not about to jump on the estrogen therapy bandwagon for every woman in menopause. I’m not a one-size-fits-all kind of girl, anyway. I think our biology is far too complex for standardized approaches to healthcare, especially when it comes to treating perimenopause and menopause symptoms.
But there is enough medical evidence to support that low doses of estrogen for women in perimenopause can be quite effective in treating symptoms. For me, it’s important that I use the best products available, which is why I’m going to ask about the transdermal bioidentical estradiol.
Not only is it bioidentical, but it is also FDA approved, and therefore, it will be covered by my insurance plan. Yes, ladies, sometimes these decisions are driven by economics.
If I decide to use it, you can be sure I’ll blog about it. I mean, I’m always laying my soul bare around here anyway, right? So why not let you in on that, too?
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.