Estradiol and norgestimate are sex hormones that are used to treat the symptoms of menopause. A form of estrogen, estradiol helps alleviate menopause symptoms including hot flashes, vaginal dryness and excessive sweating. Estrogen levels naturally drop as a woman enters menopause, and estradiol is given to replace this declining hormone. Norgestimate is a form of the hormone progestin that regulates female reproductive cycles and is given along with estradiol to reduce the risk of uterine cancer and to keep hormone levels balanced. Hormone replacement therapy with estradiol and norgestimate is also utilized to prevent osteoporosis.
The estrogen hormone estradiol is naturally produced in the ovaries in pre-menopausal women. It is also synthesized in fat cells, the walls of arteries and elsewhere in both men and women. Ovarian production of the hormone declines during menopause, and this is believed to cause many of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. Estradiol has several forms including E2 and 17 beta-estradiol. Conversion of estradiol to estrone occurs in the liver when the hormone is taken orally during estradiol and norgestimate hormone replacement therapy.
People with certain medical conditions are advised not to take estradiol and norgestimate, as these hormones might increase the risk of some problems. Women with a history of heart attack, stroke or circulation problems may be at increased risk for blood clots and recurrence of a heart attack or stroke. This is especially important for women who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels or those who smoke. Long-term use of estradiol and norgestimate might also increase the likelihood for hormone dependent cancers such as breast and uterine cancers. The hormones can cause birth defects and should not be taken while pregnant.
It is advised that women with the following conditions let their health care provider know before taking estradiol and norgestimate. Women with asthma or abnormal blood calcium levels should discuss this with their physician. Liver or kidney problems, along with migraine headaches might indicate that these hormones are not appropriate treatment options. Inflammation of the pancreas and gallbladder problems might worsen with higher estrogen levels.
Some advocate sex hormone replacement therapy as a means of maintaining a youthful appearance, but there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. There is no proof that skin stays smoother or that women feel younger while taking estradiol and norgestimate. Other unproven claims include using the hormones to alleviate anxiety, nervousness and other emotional symptoms. Relieving hot flashes and sexual discomfort caused by menopause may improve emotional well-being, but the hormones have not been shown to directly affect emotional or nervous conditions.