Several conditions can be treated with Activella. Uses of the hormone medication include the treatment of moderate to severe menopause symptoms and the prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Activella is only approved for women who have not had a hysterectomy. Previous off-label Activella uses included the prevention of heart disease and dementia, but these are no longer considered legitimate off-label uses.
Activella® (estradiol/norethindrone) is a prescription hormone medication that contains estrogen and progestin hormones. It is approved for the following uses:
- Treatment of moderate to severe hot flashes due to menopause
- Treatment of moderate to severe itching, burning, or dryness in or around the vagina due to menopause
- Prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
For all uses, Activella is approved only for women who still have a uterus (who have not had a hysterectomy). If you have had a hysterectomy, the norethindrone component of the medication is usually considered unnecessary.
Menopause is a normal change in a woman's life when she stops having her period. That's why some people call menopause "the change of life." A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for an entire year and there are no other causes for this change. Menopause symptoms include:
- Vaginal changes, such as dryness or irritation
- Changes in your period, including abnormal bleeding or "spotting"
- Hot flashes (sometimes known as hot flushes)
- Night sweats and sleeping problems (including insomnia)
- Thinning and weakening of your bones
- Mood changes
- Urinary problems
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Less interest in sex and changes in sexual response
- Weight gain or increase in body fat around your waist
- Hair thinning or hair loss.
For some women, these symptoms are quite severe and some form of menopause relief may be necessary. This may include medications, natural menopause relief remedies, or non-medical ways to deal with the symptoms.
During and after menopause, women experience a drop in estrogen levels, as well as a shift in the balance of estrogens that the body produces. Before menopause, the main source of estrogen is produced by the ovaries, and the main type of estrogen produced is known as estradiol. After menopause, the main source of estrogen is androstenedione, which is produced by the adrenal gland and is converted into an estrogen known as estrone. Menopausal symptoms and changes result from the estrogen decrease and the shift from estradiol to estrone. Activella contains estradiol and helps shift the estrogen balance to a more premenopausal state. It helps relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing the estradiol that the ovaries no longer produce.
In addition to estrogen, Activella contains norethindrone, a progestin hormone. Norethindrone is added to Activella because giving estrogens without a progestin to postmenopausal women can increase the risk of cancer of the lining of the uterus. Norethindrone decreases this risk. Of course, this applies only to women who still have a uterus (who have not had a hysterectomy). For women without a uterus, the norethindrone component is usually considered unnecessary.
For menopause treatment, Activella should be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest period necessary.
Activella is a continuous (not cyclic) hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medication. In other words, it is taken nonstop without any breaks from either of the hormones.