Journal / Hormone Replacement Therapy

6 Benefits of the Estrogen Patch

Dr. Green

Medically reviewed by Dr. Green OB/GYN

Written by Winona Editorial Team

Last updated June 27, 2022

6 Benefits of the Estrogen Patch

Article Content 3 min read

    Menopausal hormone therapy comes in various forms. Hormones can be delivered to your body via the vaginal route or in the form of a pill, cream, or patch. 

    What is an Estrogen Patch?

    Estrogen patches are small sticker-like adhesives that are embedded with estrogen to allow for direct skin absorption. They can be dosed to be changed weekly or twice weekly and are a preferred method of hormone replacement for many women. Like other forms of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), patches reduce hot flashes and night sweats, improve mood swings and quality of sleep, and help clear menopausal brain fog. But what else can HRT patches do for you? 

    Benefits of an Estrogen Patch

    1. Easy medication delivery

    Stick it on and forget it’s there! Unlike oral estrogen, you will not have to remember to take a pill each day. Because the patch will stay adherent to your skin, you will experience a steady, more consistent delivery of low-dose estrogen to relieve your menopausal symptoms thoughout the day. Having a consistent dose of estrogen circulating in your body can help address vaginal dryness or decreased vaginal lubrication, thereby significantly improving your libido and the quality of sexual activity. 

    2. Better estrogen delivery

    When compared to an estrogen pill or tablet, the body absorbs a higher percentage of estrogen from the skin patch. Of the three naturally-occurring estrogen hormones in the body, estradiol is the most potent version available and is the type of estrogen used in all estrogen patches.

    3. Avoiding the GI tract

    Absorbing estrogen via a patch instead of by pill means the estrogen bypasses your gastrointestinal tract. When you take oral estrogen tablets, your liver and intestines try to break down some of the medication before the body can absorb the estrogen into the bloodstream and deliver it where it is needed. Using a transdermal (through your skin) medication, like the estradiol patch, bypasses this first pass by the liver, more quickly distributing the medication to the rest of the body. Bypassing the liver and intestines also reduces your risk of developing gallbladder disease or affecting liver function. 

    4. Lower doses = lower risk

    Patches can deliver lower doses of estradiol through the skin when compared to the doses in oral estradiol pills. This means lower risk of blood clots in the legs or lungs, fewer effects on blood pressure, lower risk of triggering migraines (if you are prone to them), and overall lower risk of side effects like bloating, nausea, or breast tenderness.

    5. Reduces the risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis

    Postmenopausal women can experience bone loss, which may not cause any symptoms for many years. Osteoporosis causes bones to become thin and weak and may increase the risk of fractures. Taking estrogen reduces the risk of osteoporosis for women, and the estradiol patch can be specifically prescribed for this purpose alone. 

    6. May have a protective effect on the brain

    Data from the KEEPs study (Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study) showed that transdermal estrogen improves sleep and cognition in younger postmenopausal women. In the study, women receiving transdermal estradiol performed better on memory tests than women receiving oral estrogen or placebo. They also experienced less cortical atrophy and were less likely to show amyloid on brain imaging (which is found with Alzheimer’s disease).

    If these benefits sound good to you, why not consider an estrogen patch for your menopausal hormone therapy? At Winona, we routinely prescribe estrogen patches and have seen great results! 

    References:

    1. Liu B. Is transdermal menopausal hormone therapy a safer option than oral therapy?. CMAJ. 2013;185(7):549-550. doi:10.1503/cmaj.130004

    2. https://www.goodrx.com/estradiol/patch-over-pill

    3. https://womensmentalhealth.org/posts/transdermal-estrogen-benefits-cognitive-functioning-in-perimenopausal-women/

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