A plant-based estrogen cream may offer some relief from the vaginal dryness and hot flashes women experience during menopause. Estrogen creams alone aren't usually indicated. Rather, a plant-based estrogen cream combined with natural sources of progesterone offers a balance of hormones to counteract hormonal swings during menopause.
Menopause and Hormonal Replacement Therapy
Estrogen and progesterone are the two primary female reproductive hormones. The amount of these hormones rises and falls naturally during a woman's monthly cycle, resulting in the development and release of an egg and subsequent menstruation if the egg is unfertilized. During menopause, a woman's reproductive system begins to shut down so that she is no longer capable of bearing children. Hormone levels can fluctuate, resulting in hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and other symptoms.
Doctors often prescribe hormone replacement therapy to balance out a woman's hormones. They aren't intended to keep her reproductive functions as they were when she was 20. Rather, they help alleviate the major symptoms of menopause. Vaginal creams and gels are often prescribed to relieve vaginal dryness, one of the symptoms of menopause. Hormones may also be absorbed through the vaginal walls and into the bloodstream, an alternative to taking pharmaceutical hormones.
Pros and Cons of Plant-Based Estrogen Substitutes
Some women don't tolerate pharmaceutical compounds well, while others have objections to taking man-made drugs. Premarin, a preparation made with hormonal extract from pregnant mare's urine, has often been cited as a product to which many women have moral objections, since it creates an industry of unwanted foals (baby horses) that are sent to the slaughterhouse and inhuman conditions for the pregnant horses used to collect the urine for production.
Whether you agree or disagree, many hormonal drugs have adverse side effects and they can also be expensive. Women seeking alternatives often turn to plant-based substitutes such as plant-based estrogen creams. There are a few challenges when using such creams. First of all, most plant-based products and herbal preparations work in a holistic, synergistic way. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, which deliver powerful doses with immediate effects, plant-based products may take weeks to work. In addition, unless made by a reputable herbal company with strict manufacturing protocols, the amount and quality of the plant ingredients may vary from batch to batch. This can make it even harder for women to gauge the effectiveness of the product.
Main Ingredients in Plant-Based Estrogen Products
For women who still wish to use a plant-based product, the good news is that they can be less expensive and do not require a doctor's prescription. You should still tell your doctor if you are using a plant-based cream or gel. This can affect your hormones, which may affect your overall health. He or she needs to know all of the drugs and supplements you're taking, including plant-based creams.
The main ingredients in plant-based estrogen products include:
- Dong quai
- Wild yam
- Black cohosh
- Red clover blossoms
- Licorice root
These plant sources of estrogen may also provide a little boost of progesterone. Having both hormones present may smooth out some of the hormonal swings resulting in hot flashes.
Cautions About Using Plant-Based Estrogen
Women who have had breast cancer should not use plant-based estrogen sources. These may increase the amount of estrogen in the body, which can encourage the development or re-occurrence of estrogen-sensitive cancers. Women with a history of uterine, ovarian or breast problems should avoid hormone creams, even plant-based creams, except under the advice of a physician, since adding hormones may worsen certain conditions.