How Estrace Works and Treatment Instructions
How Does It Work?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 ovaries produce the main source of estrogen, 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 both the decrease in estrogen and the shift from estradiol to estrone.
Estrace contains estradiol, which increases estrogen levels and helps restore the estrogen balance back to levels that are normally seen in premenopausal women. It 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 in estrogen during menopause causes a significant weakening of the bones, often resulting in osteoporosis. By providing estrogen, Estrace can help prevent these menopause-related bone changes.
Very high doses can work to relieve the symptoms of certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. For prostate cancer, high doses of the medication work by suppressing testosterone and other male hormones that "feed" prostate cancer. It is not entirely clear how high doses work for breast cancer, as estrogen usually stimulates breast cancer cell growth. Estrace 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 EstraceSome general considerations for when and how to use Estrace include the following:
- The medication comes in tablet form. It is taken by mouth, typically once a day.
- You can take Estrace with or without food. If the medication bothers your stomach, try taking it with food, as some women find estrogens irritating to the stomach.
- Estrace can be taken cyclically (with periodic breaks every once in a while) or continuously (every single day, without any breaks). Your healthcare provider will help you decide which method is best for you.
- It does not matter what time of day you take the medication, 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.