What is estrogen (or ‘oestrogen’)?

Estrogen is a hormone that has been proposed to confer a protective effect for schizophrenia. This theory is based on the observations that women tend to have a later age of onset of schizophrenia than men, and have a second peak of onset after menopause. In women, estrogen levels drop with age, particularly with the onset of menopause. This protective effect may mean that pre-menopausal women who develop schizophrenia may experience a less severe illness than males. Estrogen is not used routinely by people with schizophrenia, however some studies have trialed the use of estrogen as an additional, adjunctive treatment to standard antipsychotic treatment.

What is the evidence for estrogen?

Moderate to high quality evidence indicates small to medium-sized improvements in positive and negative symptoms in females with schizophrenia taking adjunctive estrogen. There were medium-sized improvements in symptoms in both males and females (including those postmenopausal) with adjunctive raloxifene compared to placebo, with no differences in depression symptoms or cognition.

October 2020

Last updated at: 10:18 pm, 17th November 2020
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