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Side Effects of Estrogen

A Word of Caution! Most Commonly Observed Side Effects of Estrogen

Estrogen drugs are prescribed for treating a variety of ailments and disorders. This article discusses the different side effects that may be observed due to these drugs.
Aarti R
Last Updated: Mar 5, 2018
Hormones play an important role in transferring information and instructions from one group of cells to another. They regulate the growth and development of the human body. Estrogen is a hormone that is secreted in both men and women. It is responsible for the development and growth of female sexual characteristics, and encompasses a group of hormones viz., estrone, estradiol, and estriol. It is produced by the ovaries, fat tissues, and adrenal glands. Let us first take a look at who are prescribed estrogen, and then we shall discuss its side effects.
Who is Prescribed Estrogen Therapy?
Estrogen drugs are primarily prescribed to women during their menopause. When women have a sudden feeling of heat and sweating, these drugs are prescribed to treat the hot flashes. Vaginal dryness, itching or burning in vagina, and osteoporosis are some of the disorders that many women face during or after their menopause. These symptoms are treated with estrogen drugs. Women who are suffering from low estrogen levels are also prescribed the hormone.
Symptoms of Low Estrogen
Vaginal dryness and menopausal symptoms like hot flashes are experienced by many women due to the decreased levels of the hormone. Here are some other symptoms.
  • Increase in pulse rate
  • Short term memory loss
  • Lethargy and fatigue on light exertion
  • Bloating
  • Hot flashes
  • Dry skin
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Changes in weight
Side Effects of Estrogen
Some of the most common estrogen side effects are as follows:
  • Tenderness of breast and painful breasts
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach upset
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Leg cramps
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Hair loss
  • Gas
  • Nervousness
  • Darkening of facial skin
  • Change in sexual desire
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Burning or tingling sensation in arms
  • General feeling of illness
  • Joint pain
If taken over a long period of time, it increases the risk of cancer of the lining (endometrium) of the uterus.
Also, women who take estrogen drugs after menopause are more likely to develop gallbladder diseases. The formation of blood clots increases in women who are on the drug. These blood clots increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and many other diseases. The drugs also increase the risk of breast cancer.
Not every woman experiences the side effects mentioned above. Some less common side effects of estrogen are vaginal bleeding, bleeding gums, vaginal spotting, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and absence of menstrual period after the use of estrogen drug. In addition, there can be vaginal infection with candida, uterine fibroid, cystitis like syndrome, jaundice, rashes, etc. The most common side effect seen in women is increase in sex drive and in men it is decreased sex drive.
Side Effects of Estrogen in Men
Additionally, men who take estrogen for some reason, also experience its side effects, which are as follows:
  • Changes in body temperature
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Irritations in skin
  • Change of voice
  • Weight gain
  • Change in gonadal size
  • Change in body odor
Men who are on estrogen drugs for a long period are more susceptible to prostate cancer, heart attack, blood clots in lungs, and phlebitis.
Estrogen can potentially interact with many other drugs, like antibiotics, barbiturates, medications to treat seizures, cyclosporin, grapefruit juice, medications for hyperthyroidism, and protease inhibitors (HIV medications). It is highly recommended to consult a doctor before you take any estrogen drugs. Besides this, you must inform the doctor about your current medications.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.