Estrogen is prescribed to relieve menopausal symptoms and treat postmenopausal problems such as vaginal dryness and tissue breakdown, painful intercourse, and various urinary disorders. Estrogens have been shown to decrease the risks of osteoporosis and colorectal cancer.
Progesterone is commonly prescribed for perimenopausal women to counteract “estrogen dominance”, minimizes the risk of endometrial cancer in women who are receiving estrogen, and may enhance the beneficial effect of estrogen on lipid and cholesterol profiles.
Androgens are a class of hormones that include DHEA and testosterone, which are normally produced in a young healthy woman, and are important for libido as well as integrity of skin, bone, and muscle. When women enter menopause, testosterone and DHEA levels may decline. Experts now recognize the importance of supplementing androgens for women who are deficient.
While women have benefited from therapy with bio-identical estrogen, progesterone, and androgens, researchers and health care professionals realize that this is just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to achieving hormonal balance. Thyroid and adrenal function, as well as nutritional status, should also be evaluated and treated when indicated.