Lower doses of oral estrogen and progestogens as treatment for postmenopausal women

Semin Reprod Med. 2005 May;23(2):188-95. doi: 10.1055/s-2005-869487.


Estrogen, with or without a progestin, is effective for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. Larger doses of estrogen/progestin have been used than required for the amelioration of menopausal symptoms. Both positive and negative outcomes of hormone therapy are reported in postmenopausal women. The positive aspects have been those associated with a reduction in menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, and improvement in vulvovaginal atrophy with maintenance of bone mineral density. The problems have included an increased risk of venous thrombosis and breast cancer. The anticipation is that as the dose of oral estrogen and progestins is lowered, the benefits can be maintained and the side effects reduced. Recent clinical trials have found that lower doses of estrogen and/or progestin reduce or improve menopausal symptoms and maintain bone mineral density. The impact of lower doses of hormones on heart disease, and venous thromboembolism and stroke remain to be determined in future studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / methods*
  • Estrogens / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Postmenopause / drug effects
  • Postmenopause / physiology*
  • Progestins / administration & dosage*
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Estrogens
  • Progestins