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Transdermal progesterone and its effect on vasomotor symptoms, blood lipid levels, bone metabolic markers, moods, and quality of life for postmenopausal women

Wren, Barry G. AM, MD, MBBS, MHPED, FRANZCOG, FRCOG; Champion, Susan M. SRN, MCN, (NSW); Willetts, Karen BSc, DPhil; Manga, Robert Zoa MBBS, MPH, MHSM; Eden, John A. MBBS, MD, MRCOG, FRANZCOG, CREI

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Objective: To determine whether transdermal progesterone cream has any effect on vasomotor symptoms, mood, sexual response, cardiovascular lipid levels, or bone mineral metabolic markers.

Design: A parallel, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial comparing the effect of a transdermal cream containing a progesterone (32 mg daily) with a placebo cream. Eighty postmenopausal women in the Menopause Centre at the Royal Hospital for Women, Sydney, were randomly allocated to receive either the progesterone cream or the placebo. They were evaluated using the Greene Climacteric Scale and the Menopause Quality of Life Questionnaire, as well as blood analysis for lipids and bone markers over a period of 12 weeks. Women were prescribed a cream containing either progesterone at 32 mg daily or a placebo cream for a period of 12 weeks.

Results: There was no detectable change in vasomotor symptoms, mood characteristics, or sexual feelings, nor was there any change in blood lipid levels or in bone metabolic markers, despite a slight elevation of blood progesterone levels.

Conclusion: The use of the transdermal route to administer progesterone at 32 mg daily does not seem to allow sufficient hormone to enter the body to achieve a biological effect on lipid levels, bone mineral metabolic markers, vasomotor symptoms, or moods.

From the Sydney Menopause Centre, Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick, Australia.

Received February 26, 2002; revised and accepted May 21, 2002.

This work was supported by a grant provided by Michael Buckley of Lawley Pharmaceuticals, Western Australia, manufacturers of Pro-Feme progesterone cream.

Address correspondence to Barry G. Wren, MD, Sydney Menopause Centre, Royal Hospital for Women, Barker Street, Randwick NSW 2031, Australia. E-mail: barrygwren@bigpond.com.

©2003The North American Menopause Society