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Esterified Estrogens

How Does Esterified Estrogens Work?

Esterified estrogens contains a mixture of different estrogens. These estrogens are derived from plant sources. The medication helps to relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing the estrogen that the ovaries no longer produce.
Because estrogen helps to keep the bones strong, the decrease during menopause causes a significant weakening of the bones, often resulting in osteoporosis. By providing estrogen, esterified estrogens can help prevent these menopause-related bone changes.
Very high doses of esterified estrogens can work to relieve the symptoms of certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. For prostate cancer, the high doses in esterified estrogens work by suppressing testosterone and other male hormones that "feed" prostate cancer.
It is not entirely clear how high doses of esterified estrogens work for breast cancer, as estrogen usually stimulates breast cancer cell growth. Esterified estrogens will not cure these types of cancers, and should only be used to relieve symptoms when other treatments have failed to treat the cancer adequately.

When and How to Use Esterified Estrogens

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with esterified estrogens include the following:
  • Esterified estrogens comes in tablet form. It is taken by mouth once a day.
  • You can take this medication with food or on an empty stomach. If the product bothers your stomach, try taking it with food (some women find estrogens irritating to the stomach).
  • Esterified estrogens is usually taken cyclically, with periodic breaks every once in a while, unless you are taking it to relieve cancer symptoms, in which case it is usually taken continuously (every single day, with no breaks).
  • It does not matter what time of day you take this medicine, although it is best to take it at the same time each day.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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