Menopause is a generic term used to describe any of the symptoms or changes a woman’s body goes through after she stops menstruating for life. This happens when there is no longer a release of eggs from the ovaries each month. A woman is considered to be in menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months in a row. Normally menopause can begin any time after the age of 40 for a woman, but for others it may begin sooner as a result of illness, surgery such as a hysterectomy or cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.
Perimenopause is the time before menopause, as the ovaries slowly begin to produce less and less estrogen. It is when the drop in estrogen quickens that some women begin to feel symptoms of menopause. These symptoms include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood liability/depression
- Increase or decrease in sexual interest
- Drying of the skin in and around the vagina
- Dry hair
- Weight gain
Postmenopause is formally defined as the time after which a woman has experienced twelve consecutive months without a menstrual period. Certain health risks that are related to the loss of estrogen may increase, including heart disease and osteoporosis.
What is an Estrogen gel and how does it work?
EstroGel® is a gel containing an FDA-approved bioidentical estrogen therapy. The gel itself contains 0.06% estradiol, which is derived from plants (not animals) and is identical to the estrogen produced by your body. The estradiol is in an absorptive hydroalcoholic gel, which is colorless and odorless. The gel is easily absorbed into your system through the skin and into the blood stream. Transdermal estrogen replacement is often preferred to estrogen pills because of lower risk of side effects.
The most common indication for menopausal estrogen therapy are hot flashes (also known as vasomotor symptoms). Although alternative therapies exist, none are as effective as estrogen.
Another common indication are vaginal symptoms. The linings of the vagina and urethra are very sensitive to estrogen, and estrogen deficiency leads to thinning of the vaginal epithelium. The resulting symptoms include vaginal dryness, itching, difficult or painful sexual intercourse and sometimes urinary symptoms. Both systemic and vaginal estrogens are effective for localized genitourinary symptoms, and for women who do not have any other menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, the doctor will usually recommend vaginal estrogen only (usually vaginal cream e.g. Premarin cream or vaginal tablets e.g. Vagifem)
Systemic estrogen therapy, such as Estrogel, estrogen patches or pills is also helpful for other menopausal symptoms, most commonly mood liability/depression and joint aches and pains.
Estrogen replacement is no longer prescribed for prevention of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular heart disease, osteoporosis, cognitive function and dementia.
How is EstroGel® used?
It is important to speak to your doctor about your particular needs for this medication, as dosage depends on your response to the treatment and your medical conditions. You should never increase or decrease the dose on your own, nor should you use it more often than prescribed. Be sure to use this medication at the same time each day.
EstroGel ® Pump is available in a metered dose which delivers 1.25 g of gel containing 0.75 mg of estradiol. It is applied once a day (i.e. one pump per day), and dries quickly, so it is very convenient and easy to use.
The gel is applied to clean, dry skin on the upper arm or shoulder area once a day.
- Do not use EstroGel® in or around your vagina.
- Do not use EstroGel® on irritated or broken skin.
- Do not apply EstroGel® to your breasts.
Read the patient information insert that comes with your medication to ensure you learn how to use the pump and how to apply the gel properly, as well as how long to wait before touching the area where the medication was applied.
Was this article helpful? Other related articles you may find helpful:
If you have questions about your prescription medications or any other medication, please contact our team at Canada Online Health by calling toll free 1-800-399-DRUG (3784). One of our patient representatives will be happy to assist you or transfer you to a licensed Canadian pharmacist for a free consultation.
This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor. It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation. If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).