Background: The study was conducted to evaluate the effects of low-dose estrogen compared to placebo on ovarian activity during the traditional 7-day hormone-free interval (HFI) of an oral contraceptive (OC).
Study design: Women were randomized to placebo or low-dose estrogen for 7 days during the HFI. Serum levels of estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone and inhibin B were obtained before, during and after treatment.
Results: Mean hormone levels remained constant or only increased slightly for the low-dose estrogen group compared to greater more sustained increases observed for the placebo group. Estradiol, FSH and inhibin B levels were substantially higher for those on placebo. Differences were most noticeable by the end of the HFI and persisted into the subsequent cycle.
Conclusion: Subjects receiving low-dose estrogen for 7 days during the HFI demonstrated more pronounced ovarian suppression compared to placebo as evidenced by attenuation of increases in serum inhibin B, FSH and estradiol levels.