Forms of Estrogen Therapy
Several forms of prescription estrogen therapies are available.
- Pills – taken daily by mouth
- Patches – applied once or twice weekly to the abdomen below the waistline
- Topical – applied directly to the skin on a daily basis
- Vaginal ring – inserted every 3 months
There’s no one-size-fits-all estrogen therapy. Talk with your doctor about your symptom management goals, and the risks and benefits of each estrogen therapy option. Together you can decide which estrogen therapy is right for you.
Vivelle-Dot—the #1 prescribed brand-name bio identical estrogen therapy*†—delivers a continuous flow of estradiol (a form of estrogen bioidentical to your body’s own). Vivelle-Dot is an effective treatment for moderate to severe hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness and atrophy associated with menopause. It also helps reduce the risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
What You Should Know About Bioidenticals
There’s been a lot of conflicting talk about bio-identical hormones in the media lately. If you’re confused about bio-identical estrogen therapy, you’re certainly not alone. It’s important to know the facts about bio-identical when choosing an estrogen therapy. According to the North American Menopause Society, the term “bio-identical” is used to describe hormones that are “chemically identical to the hormones produced naturally by your body.” The most common form of estrogen produced by a woman’s normally functioning ovaries is estradiol.
Many media sources, including a variety of celebrity spokespersons, mislead the public to believe that bio-identical hormones are only available from what are known as “compounding pharmacies.” “Compounding” refers to the custom mixing of hormones by a pharmacist based on a prescription written by a physician. This is typically done at a specialty compounding pharmacy(Newport Center Pharmacy) and can be an alternative for women with special needs, such as trouble handling certain components of drug products. However, some of these sources have also suggested that compounded products are safer and more effective than regular pharmaceutical medicines. There is no scientific evidence to support the safety or effectiveness of compounded therapies.
In fact, many FDA-approved therapies, like Vivelle-Dot, already contain estradiol, the form of estrogen identical to your body’s own. The Vivelle-Dot patch is the #1 prescribed brand-name bioidentical estrogen therapy.*† The Vivelle-Dot patch delivers a continuous flow of estradiol directly into the bloodstream. For women interested in the source of estrogen in their therapy, the estrogen in Vivelle-Dot (estradiol) is chemically derived from a plant source. This does not mean that Vivelle-Dot is safer or more effective than other estrogen products.
Compounding Questions Answered
Some compounding pharmacies have claimed to provide hormone blends that are natural, safer, and more effective estrogen than therapies approved by the FDA. In January 2008, the FDA issued a series of warning letters to compounding pharmacies all around the country regarding these claims.
Compounding pharmacies often use combinations of unapproved hormones, such as estriol, whose safety and efficacy have not been tested and are not known. Products made in compounding pharmacies are not subject to the same rigorous oversight and testing as FDA-approved therapies.
The quality of compounded treatments can vary widely from batch to batch based on the practices of the individual pharmacist. Compounded mixtures may not be properly absorbed or provide the appropriate levels of hormones needed in the body. Additionally, compounded therapies are not covered by most health insurance plans and often come with significant out-of-pocket costs.
Always talk to your doctor about your treatment goals and understand the risks that may be associated with these treatments. For more information on bio-identicals, compounding, and important questions to ask your doctor, download the Women’s Health Message on Bio identical Estrogen Therapy.
If you and your doctor decide that Vivelle-Dot is right for you, you can download a trial voucher to get your first month supply at no cost.
*Based on IMS Health®, National Prescription Audit Plus™, May 2011.
†This means that the estrogen in Vivelle-Dot (estradiol) is identical to the hormone produced naturally by your body. This does not mean that it is safer or more effective.