Natural Estrogen Replacement Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide

Last updated 05.10.2024 | by Sabrina Johnson | 8 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


We wait for the day we will stop menstruating and hit menopause so there won’t be any more period-related health issues every month. But, unfortunately, menopause brings a lot of other health concerns that we have to suffer for years. Don’t get me wrong; I am not trying to scare you.

I am merely stating the facts, and want you all to be aware so that you can be prepared. Whether you are someone who is going through menopause or will enter perimenopause soon, I want to let you know about Hormone Replacement Therapy. There are a few types of therapy available that help to control the symptoms of menopause.

A decline in the female hormones, such as estrogen, is the cause of many menopausal symptoms. There is traditional as well as natural estrogen replacement therapy.

Although this article is focused on natural estrogen replacement therapy, I will also give you a brief idea about traditional hormone replacement therapy. The post will also share some natural options for hormone replacement. So, let’s get started!

Traditional vs. Natural Estrogen Replacement

Menopause can be a roller coaster ride where the ups, downs, and turns will leave you breathless, scared, frustrated, and crying. It’s enough to make you want to crawl under the covers and wait for it all to pass. But for many women, there is hope in the form of Estrogen Replacement Therapy. When it comes to estrogen replacement therapy, you have choices, so let’s navigate both the traditional and natural options.

Traditional Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

I remember my mom talking about her experience with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Back then, it felt like the only available option.” This is what one of my friends told me recently while we were discussing HRT. It is safe to say now that more methods have been introduced over the years. However, HRT is still one of the recommended options.

It works by replacing the estrogen and progesterone your body stops producing after menopause. According to recent studies, up to 80% of women experience vasomotor symptoms, and HRT can reduce their frequency and severity extensively.

There are different forms of HRT, including creams, patches, pills, and gels. Each has its pros and cons, and your doctor will help you choose the right one for you.

However, HRT has its own risk factors. Studies have shown that long-term use of certain types of HRT can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer and blood clots. This is the reason you should first discuss all risks and benefits with your doctor to find what is best for you.

Natural Estrogen Replacement Therapy

The term natural can be very appealing, especially when it comes to managing your health. On that note, let’s talk about Natural Estrogen Replacement Therapy.

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy

These are hormones derived from plant sources that are claimed to be chemically identical to those your body produces. The hormones have the same molecular structure as the human body produces.

Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are the commonly used bioidentical hormones (3). Certain types of bioidentical hormones are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whereas others are custom-made (compounded form) by pharmacists based on prescriptions by medical professionals.

You should know that the compounded forms are not tested and approved by FDA. However, both FDA-approved and compounded are available in various forms, such as pills, creams, vaginal inserts, gels, and sprays.

This hormone therapy has been controversial as many of them are not FDA-approved. The therapy is not suitable for people who have blood clotting disorders, breast cancer, or heart disease. If you have ever suffered from these conditions or are at high risk, consider alternative methods.

This therapy helps to control hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, insomnia, painful intercourse, etc. The duration it takes to work varies from person to person.

There are definitely risks and side effects involved with this therapy; therefore, it is necessary to consult with your healthcare provider and weigh every small detail before making a decision.

Phytoestrogens

These are plant-based compounds that have a weak estrogen-like effect on the body. They serve as a type of natural hormone replacement therapy and provide relief from some menopausal symptoms, though research is ongoing on its effects.

Natural Options for Estrogen Replacement

Natural options for estrogen replacement aim to support your body’s own production or mimic estrogen’s effects. And unlike HRT, it does not directly replace estrogen. Let’s learn some of the natural approaches women can adopt to treat menopausal symptoms.

Dietary Changes for Hormone Balance

Studies suggest that certain dietary changes can make a real difference in maintaining your hormone levels.

Plant-based compounds are very helpful. Some examples include:

  • Flaxseeds: Packed with lignans, which your body converts to weak estrogen-like compounds. I sometimes grind flaxseeds and add them to smoothies, but the taste isn’t my favorite. However, there are flaxseed meal options that are easier to incorporate.
  • Soy Products: Soybeans, tofu, tempeh, and edamame are rich in isoflavones, another type of phytoestrogen. You can consume them in many ways, though the best way is to incorporate them into stir-fries or curries.
  • Other Options: Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains offer a variety of health benefits that can directly support hormonal balance.

Supplements and Herbs for Estrogen Support

Several supplements and herbs are often praised for menopausal relief. Here’s a closer look at some common choices:

  • Black Cohosh: This has been used for centuries to manage menopausal symptoms. Studies (4) have found it to be moderately effective in reducing hot flashes, but more research is needed.
  • Red Clover: This flowering plant contains isoflavones similar to those found in soy. Studies on its effectiveness for menopause are limited, with some showing mild benefits and others inconclusive.
  • Evening Primrose Oil: This oil is derived from the seeds of the evening primrose plant and is often used for skin health. While some studies suggest it might help with vaginal dryness, the evidence for other symptoms is weak.

Some other options are:

  • St. John’s Wort 
  • Valerian Root 
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids 
  • Folate 
  • Licorice Root

Lifestyle Modifications for Menopausal Symptoms

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is beneficial in many ways. Do some lifestyle modifications to relieve symptoms of menopause.

  • Exercise Regularly: Aim to do some moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Physical activity can significantly reduce hot flashes and improve overall well-being. I find that going for a brisk walk or a yoga session does wonders for my mood and energy levels.
  • Manage Stress: Stress can worsen menopausal symptoms and also hamper your overall health. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and spending time in nature can be incredibly helpful.
  • Prioritize Sleep: Always aim for 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night. Insomnia is a common symptom of menopause. For a good night’s sleep, incorporate good sleeping habits, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoid caffeine in the evening.

Conditions that Natural Estrogen Replacement Therapy Treats

It treats a variety of menopausal symptoms; however, the effects can vary from person to person. Some of the common conditions the therapy helps to control are:

  • Hot Flashes 
  • Vaginal Dryness 
  • Mood Swings 
  • Irritability 
  • Sleep Disruptions 
  • Hormonal Imbalances 
  • Hair Loss
  • Vaginal Atrophy 
  • Pain during Intercourse 
  • Irregular Periods
  • Depression and Anxiety 
  • UTIs 
  • Reduced Sex Drives

FAQs

What is natural estrogen replacement therapy?

It is a therapy that aims to address menopausal symptoms by supporting your body’s own hormone production or mimicking estrogen’s effects using natural approaches.

Can it help with hot flashes and other symptoms?

Natural options may offer some relief from hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings. However, the effectiveness can vary depending on the approach and individual.

Is it right for me?

Well, it is important to talk to your doctor first. They can help you weigh the potential benefits and risks of natural options, considering your unique needs and medical history.

Wind-Up

Perimenopause and menopause can bring a lot of medical conditions that women have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s a struggle to suffer the menopause symptoms alongside managing your house and work life.

Natural estrogen replacement therapy can be helpful in alleviating the symptoms to a great extent. The effectiveness of all approaches is still being researched, but some are effective. Consult your doctor to choose the best for you!

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.