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Choosing the best over-the-counter estrogen product will depend on several factors, including the individual’s medical history as well as the product's strength and composition. While some individuals find over-the-counter estrogen creams to be most effective, others prefer taking supplemental estrogen in a pill form. The strength and mechanism of delivery of over-the-counter estrogen products will affect which products will benefit which individuals.
Before beginning any over-the-counter estrogen treatment, it is important to consult a physician. He or she will be able to take a full medical history and assess the risks of various estrogen therapies. Some studies have found that estrogen products can increase the risks of certain cancers, especially in patients who have a family history of these cancers.
For those who are not at any significant risk for health problems, there are many available types of over-the-counter estrogen supplements of varying strengths. Plant-based and herb-based estrogen products contain phytoestrogens, natural chemicals that mimic the structure of estrogen in the human body. Individuals who prefer natural or homeopathic remedies often choose these estrogen products first because they do not contain synthetic hormones. These estrogen supplements are often milder than synthetic estrogens, but some patients have found that eating soy products, or other plants that contain phytoestrogens, is a way to achieve even milder effects.
Synthetic estrogens contain hormones that are designed to mimic the structure of estrogen. As a result, they also mimic the effects that estrogen has on the body. While many synthetic estrogens are associated with hormonal contraception, they are also available over-the-counter for estrogen replacement therapy. Synthetic estrogen products can be good options for individuals who need stronger estrogen supplementation or for those who need their estrogen levels to be closely monitored, as the dosage in synthetic hormones is more precise than in natural alternatives.
The two main types of over-the-counter estrogen products include creams and pills. Creams are either applied to the skin or inserted into the vagina, where the hormones will diffuse into the bloodstream. Pills are ingested and the hormones are absorbed into the bloodstream through the digestive system. Some argue that natural estrogen supplements are less effective when ingested in pill form, as the body can break them down before they have a chance to enter the bloodstream. Regardless of the treatment method, it is important to carefully follow the instructions for taking the estrogen products, and to accurately adhere to the dosage recommendations.