Study objectives: To characterize and compare premenstrual symptoms (mood, physical) throughout two menstrual cycles with and without estradiol administration, in women with premenstrual asthma (PMA), and to examine relationships between asthma symptoms versus premenstrual symptoms and pulmonary function versus premenstrual symptoms in these women.
Design: Open-label, longitudinal, 9-week study (consisting of two complete menstrual cycles).
Setting: Clinical study at the University of Kentucky; data analysis at the University of British Columbia and Children's and Women's Health Centre of British Columbia.
Patients: Fourteen women (age 35.6 +/- 6.6 yrs) with mild to moderate asthma with a baseline ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 second:forced vital capacity of 0.72 +/- 0.12.
Interventions: Women were followed for two complete menstrual cycles. During the second complete cycle (i.e., cycle 3), they received estradiol 2 mg orally between days 23 and 28 (premenstrual).
Measurements and main results: Throughout both cycles 2 and 3, each subject recorded premenstrual symptom questionnaire scores (15 mood and physical symptoms, graded 0-3) every morning on awakening. Peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) and visual analog scales of asthma symptoms (cough, wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness) were recorded daily at the same time. Seven subjects showed a classic pattern of premenstrual symptoms. Four of the five subjects who complained of PMA symptoms at study enrollment also demonstrated this classic pattern of premenstrual symptoms. After estradiol administration, four women had lower symptom scores, eight had higher scores, and two had the same scores. Overall, estradiol had no significant effect on symptoms (mean area under the curve 18.9 +/- 14.8 day(-1) vs 20.3 +/- 14.8 day(-1), p>0.05). Ten subjects had significant relationships between asthma symptoms and premenstrual symptoms, whereas six had significant relationships between PEFR and premenstrual symptoms.
Conclusions: Exogenous estradiol administration had no significant effect on premenstrual symptoms in women with PMA. The lack of a significant effect allows for patient blinding in a placebo-controlled, crossover study of exogenous estradiol in PMA that is currently under way Clinical implications of relationships between asthma symptoms versus premenstrual symptoms and pulmonary function versus premenstrual symptoms may warrant further study.