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The different forms of estrogen

For decades the main form of estrogen given to women was conjugated equine estrogens (CEE) or Premarin®. As the name suggests, this is derived from horses. Other forms of estrogen come from plant sources, most commonly from yams. However, yams themselves contain only tiny amounts of estrogen or progesterone, so a large number of yams must be used to get enough purified hormone. Nutritional supplements made from yams do not contain enough to have any hormone-like effects on the body.

In addition to CEE, there are a variety of other estrogens available in pill form, such as esterified estrogens (Estratab®), micronized estradiol (Estrace®), and generic versions. The latter, estradiol, is the main estrogen made in a woman’s body. However, it is converted to another estrogen when it is absorbed through the GI tract. A newer oral estrogen is Cenestin®, which contains the same hormones as Premarin® but is made from soy and yam rather than from the urine of pregnant mares. It has very predictable absorption. All of these preparations can work well. Estradiol is the most natural form but really works better if divided into two doses rather than a single one. Cenestin gives very predictable absorption.

Some combination forms use ethinyl estradiol which is the form used in birth control pills but the dose is much lower. While these pill forms of estrogen give perfectly good results for many women, newer non-oral forms have some advantages.

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What is Menopause?
When does menopause happen?
How Menopause Feels
What is HRT?
Surviving  – and thriving – during menopause
The big question: HRT
HRT and Breast Cancer
HRT and Contemporary Lifestyles
The HRT Option
How is HRT taken:
The different forms of estrogen:
Estrogen as a skin patch:
The splendors and miseries of progesterone
What are SERMs?
If you've had a hysterectomy
Deciding about YOUR Menopause
I'm on HRT but I don't feel any better

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