Unchain my lungs…estrogen and asthma

Posted by on Feb 12, 2010 in asthma, estrogen, HRT | 2 comments

As the evidence continues to accrue against the use of combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT), attention must be turned to estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy. However, is it safer?

In the Women’s Health Initiative, which was halted last decade, taking estrogen alone was associated with an increased risk of blood clots, stroke, impaired cognitive function and dementia. In the latest bit of information to hit the news, estrogen-only therapy may also increase the risk for developing asthma.

Results of a 12-year study among almost 58,000 women who were not suffering from asthma at the start of menopause showed that they were 21% more likely to develop asthma symptoms. This risk was significant among women who had been taking estrogen only compared to women who had never used hormones, had a 54% greater risk of developing asthma. The risk was even greater among women who had never smoked, although a small proportion of study participants had allergies prior to developing asthma.

Once again, Reuters has done an excellent job of reporting on this study and has some great quotes from the researchers as well.

Meanwhile, what should you do if you’ve been taking estrogen to combat the symptoms of menopause? As always, you have a choice and only you and your practitioner can determine if you are at risk for developing any of the conditions that are associated with hormonal therapy. The good news? Breathe easy. Yet another reason to lose the hormones…for good.


  1. 1-25-2012

    I suddenly developed asthma symptoms last year. I was referred to an endocrinologist after my heart was thoroughly ruled out for causing my shortness of breath symptoms. I was tested and told that my estrogen was extremely low and put on HRT including estrogen, progesterone and synthroid.

    I already had other low estrogen symptoms and asthma symptoms before I was put on estrogen therapy. The other low estrogen symptoms eased with treatment and so did my asthma symptoms, until my cycle changed and my asthma symptoms significantly increased.
    I do believe that there is a link between hormonal imbalance and asthma, but my personal experience suggests asthma is caused by another hormonal imbalance that accompanies low estrogen and appears to be worsened with some HRT and that the HRT used to treat the low estrogen is faulted.

    A low dose patch improved my symptoms and reduced my asthma symptoms, although I still suffer from cyclical symptoms of breathlessness and alternating joint pain. These do not occur together.

    I am not advocating whether or not estrogen replacement is right for women. However, I am saying that my personal symptoms and pain were significant enough to require treatment. But I think the hormonal imbalance is not yet understood and there are times in my cycle (irregular though it may be) that estrogen exacerbates my asthma symptoms and other times of the month that if I do not have estrogen therapy, my other symptoms are significantly impairing.
    Finally, I suspect that the asthma symptoms may have already been in the wings for the women who sought HRT due to their other menopausal symptoms and that estrogen therapy may not cause the asthma, but worsens the symptoms at times during the woman’s cycle or phases during which there is an estrogen imbalance with other hormones.

    I would like to see HRT tailored to the fluctuation in hormones and specifically address the imbalance that is causing not only short term symptoms but long term damage.


  1. Unchain my lungs…estrogen and asthma « Flashfree | Asthma News, Causes, Types, Symptoms, Treatment, Medication, Facts and informations - [...] post: Unchain my lungs…estrogen and asthma « Flashfree Posted in Health and [...]
  2. Breathe. What you need to know about asthma and HRT | FlashFree : Not Your Mama's Menopause - [...] asthma risk increases in women after puberty. Moreover, hormones, most specifically fluctuating estrogen levels, can impact airways as much…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *