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An estrogen cream with no estrogen in it? There are several different kinds of estrogen creams on the market and you need to know which is which. First, there are creams made with conjugated estrogens. One well-known brand is Premarin. These estrogens are the ones that have several risks associated with them due to recent tests performed in the Womens' Health Initiative. They are available by prescription only.
There are bioidentical estrogens, which are thought by many doctors to be safer than conjugated estrogens. These estrogens include estradiol, estriol and estrone. If you get a prescription for these estrogens, they may be formulated in several different ways: estradiol alone, which is the estrogen your ovaries make and is the dominant estrogen before menopause, or estradiol and either estrone or estriol, or a combination of all three. Estrone is the dominant hormone after menopause, but we don't yet know the purpose for this change.
Most over the counter estrogen creams do not contain estradiol, which is the most active form of estrogen. I did find one that contains estriol.
Another related term is phyto-estrogens. These are plant estrogens and they are not the same as the estrogens above. Phyto-estrogens may be helpful with menopause symptoms though. For more information about this, see herbal estrogen
If you are going to buy over the counter estrogen cream, always read the ingredients. You want to make sure it has bioidentical estrogen in it. This will be stated on the label as “estradiol USP” or “estriol USP”. If there is no “USP” associated with an estrogen on the label, then there IS NO estrogen in the cream.
For example, some web pages about the brand Estro-All, also known as Essential Support Treatment (EST), state that the product has 1 mg natural estrogen in it. Under ingredients, there is no mention of USP estradiol, estriol, or estrone (the term for bioidentical estrogen) Just to be clear - plant compounds do not contain estrogen! Some sites promoting EST claim USP progesterone, but only estradiol and estriol (no USP with it), and the manufacturer's site does not use the USP for it's progesterone ingredient either. I am confused. I would not buy the product without further investigation.
If symptoms of low estrogen are interfering with your life and you cannot take time away, estrogen cream can be very helpful. If you have hot flashes, vaginal dryness, brain fog, mood swings or headaches, estrogen cream can help. If you are using estrogen cream and start to get bloated or have tender breasts, then you are getting too much.
Always take it in combination with progesterone cream (bioidentical only). It is thought that this reduces risks for some cancers. Take the lowest dose you can manage, for the shortest time possible.
It's been about 6 years since I had my last period (it's June 2014 now). I went through peri menopause and menopause without estrogen cream or any other type of estrogen replacement. In fact, estrogen becomes more dominant prior to menopause, because progesterone levels are dropping.
After you stop having periods however, estrogen drops. In my case it felt like a pretty sharp drop. One day I was having periods every month, then all of a sudden I went six months without one. The first month with no period is when my hot flashes started, and they were extremely intense. All I could think of when one hit me was having a large fire hose filled with ice water to drown myself in. I tried different herbs and dietary changes, and progesterone cream. I was able to lessen the intensity quite a bit.
Unfortunately I am still having hot flashes, and I was hot all the time until very recently, when I lost 30-plus pounds. A few years ago I found a doctor that would effectively treat my thyroid condition, and he also specialized in bioidentical hormone therapy. I started using bioidentical estrogen in combination with bioidentical testosterone and progesterone. My energy was already much better from the thyroid treatment, but increased even more with the hormones. In addition, my brain function became much better and that stiff all over all the time feeling went away. I stayed on the hormones for a couple of years, then went off of them and felt great for another couple of years, until I felt like I needed the hormones again. So I am back on them as of December 2013.