Our culture, which sees happiness as something you put in your mouth or inject into your body, no sooner suspected that estrogen, like serotonin, was a magic philter that would restore and maintain equilibrium, health and well-being, than it began clamoring for more and more of it. Synthetic versions were swiftly patented, manufactured and sold. Yet exogenous estrogen was no novelty, as women had been using it for years in the form of contraception, without noticing any euphoric effect. The pharmacologists who developed the so called hormone replacement therapy saw at once that synthetic estrogens did not produce the desired effects.
They went back to natural estrogen, a cumbersome and expensive product, harvested from the urine of pregnant mares. The mares are fitted with a collection cup attached to a hose and confined in a narrow stall for the entire eleven months of their pregnancy. As soon as possible after the birth of their foals, who are routinely slaughtered, the mares are re-impregnated and the urine-collection process begins again.
If the pharmaceutical companies were to get women hooked the best time was at menopause when they were in estrogen withdrawal and begging for a fix. At least that was what the researchers thought that hot flushes, joint pains, sleeplessness, etc., added up to. The new mixtures were the methadone rather than the heroin. For some reason the women did not stay hooked. The selling and the product design were relaunched time and again. Sub-dermal implants seemed to lose their effectiveness; women required bigger closes, the implants became ineffective more quickly, menopausal symptoms recurred at shortening intervals. The manufacturers of sex steroid preparations, like the manufacturers of cigarettes, had what they wanted, addiction, and they were just as unwilling to talk about it. An underground network of pushers w-as set up; women, all users themselves, held HRT parties, bring-and-buy sales and coffee mornings, to spread awareness so that women would ask their doctors to prescribe.
Women who take estrogen definitely tend to look younger than their years. Their skin remains smoother, moister, oilier and more flexible – in other words younger. That doesn’t mean you should take estrogen for cosmetic purposes alone. Younger-looking skin is just one of the magical consequences of HRT that researchers have been unable to substantiate; as far as laboratory investigations can establish, exogenous estrogen has no effect on the epidermis or supporting structures.