Oestrogen-only patches: what is Estradot and how do I use it?
Estradot patches are a type of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that contain the hormone estradiol. This is identical to the oestrogen made naturally in the ovaries, and it’s delivered through the skin via a small, sticky patch.
How does Estradot work?
Estradot is prescribed to relieve symptoms caused by falling levels of oestrogen during the perimenopause and menopause, and it works by adding back the oestrogen that the ovaries no longer produce. It’s a type of systemic HRT, which means oestrogen is released directly into the bloodstream where it can travel through the entire body. As a result it can relieve a wide range of symptoms, including hot flushes, night sweats, poor sleep, brain fog, vaginal dryness, depression, anxiety and mood swings.
When and how do I use Estradot?
Your Estradot patch should be applied to clean, dry skin below the waist. It’s a good idea to vary the location as this reduces the risk of skin irritation, so try sticking a patch to your tummy, hip, bottom or thigh to see where it sticks best. Each patch contains enough estradiol for three or four days, so it should be changed twice per week on the same days, and at roughly the same time.
If you still have your womb, you’ll also need to take a form of progesterone or progestogen, which is usually given as a tablet (known as Micronised progesterone) or via the Mirena coil. This is because taking oestrogen can thicken the cells in the lining of the womb, and there’s a small risk of these cells turning cancerous. There’s no increased risk of cancer of the uterus when you also take progesterone or progestogen.
What doses does Estradot come in?
It’s available in four strengths: 25mcg, 50mcg, 75mcg and 100mcg. The size of the patch increases in line with the dosage. Most people begin on the 50mcg dose, but your healthcare professional may recommend increasing this if your symptoms don’t improve after the first three months.
What are the benefits?
Estradot patches are smaller than most other HRT patches, and they also tend to stick well – so it’s worth trying these if you find that other patches fall off. Patches can be a convenient way to take HRT, especially if you take a higher dose: you don’t need to remember to take it every day, or wait around for gel to dry. This is particularly beneficial if you take a higher dose, which would require you to apply several sprays or pumps of gel. As well as tackling unpleasant symptoms of the menopause, HRT can also reduce your future risk of osteoporosis, as well as your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Who is Estradot suitable for?
For most people, the benefits of HRT outweigh any risks. As the oestrogen is absorbed through your skin there’s no increased risk of blood clot or stroke, and it can also be used if you have migraines.
Can I expect any side effects?
It can take a few months to adjust to taking HRT, so you may notice some mild side effects. The most common are breast discomfort, leg cramps and breakthrough bleeding or spotting. These usually settle over time, but talk to your healthcare professional if they persist for longer than the first six months. You might notice sticky marks on the skin when you change a patch, but these can be removed with baby oil and a dry flannel.