Side effects of estrogen pills include nausea, headache, vaginal secretion, and pain and swelling in the breasts, reports WebMD. Oral estrogen therapy may also elevate cholesterol levels, as metabolism of estrogen occurs in the liver. Absorption of estrogen is sometimes difficult, particularly if a patient takes other medications or experiences stomach issues. Research suggests that estrogen pills slightly raise a patient's risks of blood clots, strokes and other health problems.
Estrogen pills also may increase the risks of heart attack and breast cancer, particularly when taken with another hormone called progestin, notes WebMD. These pills make the liver work harder, which is why they are not advisable for patients with liver damage.
The main advantage of taking estrogen pills is relief from menopause symptoms, according to WebMD. Additionally, oral estrogen likely reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Doctors generally recommend taking estrogen pills once daily without food.
Estrogen skin patches and topical creams are other types of estrogen replacement therapy, states WebMD. While skin patches provide the same benefits as estrogen pills, they are more convenient and do not pose a risk of liver problems. They slightly increase a patient's risk of health problems and cause moderate side effects. Topical creams are similarly a good option for patients with liver problems, but they also cause slight health risks like all other forms of estrogen replacement therapy.