Ten years ago the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study changed our view of how to treat low estrogen. The study of 161,880 postmenopausal women questioned the safety of estrogen. The study found that there was a higher risk of breast cancer, stroke, heart attack and blood clots among women who took estrogen compared to women who did not.
While attending this year’s annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) I heard the world release of a new report that updated those findings. The results should be very encouraging to women in and near menopause who want to consider treatment for low estrogen.
The original WHI study looked at estrogen treatment in women who were aged 60 to 79 (mean age 63), much older than women who are entering menopause (mean age 51). The new study called KEEPS which stands for KRONOS Early Estrogen Prevention Study looked at the impact of taking estrogen on women who were just entering menopause – on average about age 52.
The results should make women who want to take estrogen feel much safer. Menopausal women who took either the oral estrogen Premarin at a dose of 0.45 mg daily or an estrogen skin patch (transdermal) at a dose of 0.05mg were compared to women of the same age who took a placebo for a total of 4 years.
Women who took either estrogen were no more likely to have a stroke or heart attack than the women who took no estrogen. While it didn’t lower their risk, it didn’t didn’t increase their risk either. In fact, calcium deposits in the walls of the women’s arteries even seemed to decrease with estrogen. This may turn out to be a sign of lower risk of heart attack if estrogen is started at the time of menopause.
It seems that if women get started taking their estrogen early in the transition from their reproductive years towards menopause, they were not increasing their risk of heart attack or stroke.
Other good news is that estrogen started at that time seemed to be helpful in sexual function improving arousal, desire, lubrication and orgasm. Transdermal estrogen takers had even better results with sexual improvement that those taking oral estrogen.
This is an important study and great news for postmenopausal women with low estrogen. The age estrogen is started is a very important part of your decision. To help you with understanding estrogen, click here for a free ebook on how to take estrogen.