To evaluate whether change in menopausal symptoms is related to modification of 24-hour urinary cortisol.
Sixty-nine postmenopausal women were treated for their menopausal symptoms with either estrogen progestin therapy (0.3 mg conjugate equine estrogens and 1.5 mg medroxyprogesterone acetate; n = 25), phytoestrogens (75 mg isoflavones, twice daily; n = 21) or acupuncture (once a week; n = 23). Baseline and treatment-induced changes of total and subscale scores (vasomotor, depression, anxiety, somatization, sexuality) of the Greene's Climacteric Scale and of 24-hour urinary cortisol were evaluated.
At baseline, 24-hour urinary cortisol was related to Greene's Climacteric Scale score (P < 0.0001). Independent determinants (R2 = 0.319) were the Greene's subscales scores of depression (with a mean difference of 24-h cortisol for score unit expressed as beta coefficient of regression (b) of 4.91, 95% CI 2.14-7.7; P = 0.0007), and of somatization (b 3.04 95% CI 0.69-5.4; P = 0.012). The Greene's Climacteric Scale score (−5.67 ± 6.8; P = 0.0001) and 24-hour cortisol (−23.6 ± 45.7 μg/24 h; P = 0.0001) declined after 3 months of treatment. Changes of 24-hour cortisol values were linearly related to changes of total Greene's Climacteric Scale score with a mean change for unit score (b) of 2.10, 95% CI 0.47-3.73; P = 0.012).
Present data indicate that greater reduction in menopausal symptoms is associated with a larger decrease in cortisol levels. Possible implication of this finding on the long-term consequences for women's health needs to be explored.