Info on Estraderm's Effects and Treatment Instructions
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 both the decrease in estrogen and the shift from estradiol to estrone.
By providing estradiol through the skin (instead of by mouth), Estraderm patches help decrease "first pass metabolism," when the liver metabolizes a drug before it reaches the bloodstream. Since the liver metabolizes estradiol into estrone (another estrogen, one that is predominant in postmenopausal women), taking estradiol by mouth results in high levels of estrone (and low levels of estradiol). With Estraderm, the estradiol reaches the bloodstream (and the rest of the body) before it is metabolized into estrone by the liver.
Some general considerations for when and how to use this medication include the following:
- Estraderm comes as a skin patch. It is changed twice a week.
- Apply the Estraderm patch to an area of clean, dry skin on your trunk (including your buttocks and abdomen but not the breasts). Choose a spot that is not exposed to sunlight.
- Rotate the application sites, so that you do not apply a patch to the same place twice in a row.
- Try to avoid placing the patch right at the waistline, since your clothes may rub against the patch and loosen it.
- Dispose of an old patch by folding it in half and throwing it away, out of reach of children or pets. Do not flush it down the toilet.
- If a little adhesive remains on your skin after removing a patch, a little lotion or body oil can help to remove it.
- Estraderm can be used continuously (without any breaks) or cyclically (such as three weeks on the drug, one week off). Your healthcare provider will help you decide how to use it.
- For the medication to work properly, it must be used as prescribed.