Overview: This article describes a study done to research the effect of the estradiol hormone on bone loss that commonly occurs post-menopause.
The effect of percutaneous estradiol alone and combined with natural progesterone on postmenopausal bone loss was studied. A total of 57 women who had experienced a natural menopause six months to three years previously entered the study. After an initial examination, the women were allocated in a blinded pattern to treatment with either three milligrams of percutaneous estradiol or placebo.
The code was broken after one year of treatment, and the women receiving estradiol continued with a cyclic addition of progesterone, whereas those receiving placebo continued with placebo. The women were examined every three months during the two years of treatment. Measurement of the bone mineral content in the forearms (single photon absorptiometry), and the spine and total skeleton (dual photon absorptiometry) showed a significant decrease of five to seven percent in the placebo group during the two years of treatment, whereas it remained constant in all bone compartments in the estradiol group. Addition of progesterone did not influence the results.
Biochemical estimates of calcium metabolism changed toward a premenopausal level in the estradiol group, but remained unchanged in the placebo group. We conclude that percutaneous estradiol is effective as preventive therapy and postmenopausal bone loss, and that addition of progesterone does not influence bone or calcium metabolism.