A comparison of the effects of oral conjugated equine estrogen and transdermal estradiol-17 beta combined with an oral progestin on quality of life in postmenopausal women

J R Hilditch, J Lewis, A H Ross, A Peter, B van Maris, E Franssen, J Charles, P Norton, E V Dunn
Maturitas 1996, 24 (3): 177-84

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effect of transdermal estradiol-17 beta and oral conjugated equine estrogen when combined with an oral progestin on quality of life in post-menopausal women.

DESIGN: Randomized controlled double-blind trial. A randomization error lead to the exclusion of six subjects but the soundness of the remaining randomization was confirmed.

SETTING: Large urban community.

PATIENTS: Women 2-7 years after menopause with a uterus and ovaries, and not currently using hormone replacement therapy. Seventy-four women completed the trial.

INTERVENTIONS: After baseline measures of quality of life, subjects were randomly assigned to either continuous oral conjugated equine estrogen 0.625 mg daily or continuous transdermal estradiol-17 beta 50 mcg twice weekly, for four 4-week cycles. Medroxyprogesterone acetate 10 mg oral tablets was administered to both groups for the last 12 days of each cycle.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: Quality of life was determined using the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire. Tolerability was determined by a specifically designed list of adverse effects. Both measures were recorded at base-line and in mid-cycle during the second, third and fourth cycles of treatment.

RESULTS: There were no statistically significant differences in any of the domains at baseline between the oral and transdermal treatment groups. In the vasomotor domain-scores for the oral and transdermal groups improved from baseline levels of 3.14 and 3.09, respectively, to 1.32 and 1.23; physical domain scores improved from 2.45 and 2.73 to 2.04 and 1.78; psychosocial domain scores improved from 2.72 and 3.04 to 2.21 and 1.94; sexual domain scores improved from 2.32 and 2.16 to 1.64 and 1.30. There were no statistically significant group differences or time/group interactions. Both forms of therapy were equally well tolerated.

CONCLUSIONS: Improvement in all domains, measured by the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire, was observed in both the oral and transdermal groups. In the absence of a placebo control group, the improvements observed cannot be attributed solely to the therapy. Neither form of therapy offered an advantage over the other in respect to improvement in quality of life.

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