Vaginal bleeding in postmenopausal women taking low-dose norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol combinations. The FemHRT Study Investigators

Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Sep;96(3):366-72. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(00)00941-8.

Abstract

Objective: To determine the effect of continuous combined treatment with norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol (E2) on vaginal bleeding, spotting, or bleeding and/or spotting in postmenopausal women.

Methods: Two randomized clinical trials were conducted in which participants recorded information on the daily occurrence of vaginal bleeding or spotting. In study 1, 219 postmenopausal women reporting at least ten hot flushes per week were randomized to placebo or one of four treatment groups (0.2 mg norethindrone acetate/1 microg ethinyl E2, 0.5 mg norethindrone acetate/2.5 microg ethinyl E2, 1 mg norethindrone acetate/5 microg ethinyl E2, or 1 mg norethindrone acetate/10 microg ethinyl E2). In study 2, 266 postmenopausal women reporting at least 56 moderate to severe hot flushes were randomized to placebo or one of three treatment groups (0.5 mg norethindrone acetate/2.5 microg ethinyl E2, 1 mg norethindrone acetate/5 microg ethinyl E2, or 1 mg norethindrone acetate/10 microg ethinyl E2). The total duration of treatment was 16 weeks in study 1 and 12 weeks in study 2. In both studies, subjects reported in daily diaries whether they had either bleeding or spotting.

Results: In study 1, there was a significantly greater relative risk (RR) for bleeding in the group receiving 1 mg norethindrone acetate/10 microg ethinyl E2 at study weeks 4 and 8 (RR = 1.36 and 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01, 1.83; RR = 1.37 and 95% CI 1.1, 1.72; respectively) compared with placebo, but not at study weeks 12 or 16. The group receiving 1 mg norethindrone acetate/5 microg ethinyl E2 also had a significantly greater risk at weeks 4 and 8 (RR = 1.5 and 95% CI 1.15, 1.96; RR = 1.33 and 95% CI 1.00, 1.77; respectively), whereas the other dose combinations did not differ from placebo. Results from study 2 were similar to those of study 1.

Conclusion: Although there was a greater risk for bleeding and/or spotting at the higher doses of norethindrone acetate and ethinyl E2, this risk declined over time. If compliance with hormone replacement therapy regimens is influenced at least in part by vaginal bleeding, the combined norethindrone acetate/ethinyl E2 regimen investigated in these studies may provide a treatment option.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Climacteric / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy*
  • Ethinyl Estradiol / administration & dosage
  • Ethinyl Estradiol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Norethindrone / administration & dosage
  • Norethindrone / adverse effects
  • Norethindrone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Norethindrone Acetate
  • Risk
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / chemically induced*

Substances

  • Ethinyl Estradiol
  • Norethindrone Acetate
  • Norethindrone