A review of transdermal nonpatch estrogen therapy for the management of menopausal symptoms

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010 Jan;19(1):47-55. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2008.1206.


During the transition into menopause, women may experience a wide range of symptoms that negatively impact quality of life. The vasomotor symptoms (VMS) of hot flushes and night sweats are common and vary widely in frequency and severity. The treatment of menopause-associated VMS is a frequently encountered clinical challenge, with the goal of tailoring treatment for each individual woman's needs. Estrogen therapy is the most effective treatment for menopausal VMS. Current guidelines suggest that estrogen therapy be prescribed at the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration of time. Transdermal estrogen therapy has dominated the menopause prescribing practice in Europe for decades; however, in the United States, oral estrogen therapy is most commonly prescribed. Transdermal estrogen therapy can be prescribed at considerably lower doses than oral therapy yet has similar efficacy on the symptoms of menopause. Emerging research demonstrates transdermal estrogen, particularly 17beta-estradiol, may have the potential for fewer health risks than oral estrogen therapy. This review article discusses the spectrum of menopausal symptoms, addresses prevailing issues in the treatment of menopause, elaborates on the risks and benefits of oral and transdermal hormone therapies, and focuses on five nonpatch transdermal estradiol therapies currently available in the United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Administration, Oral
  • Estradiol / administration & dosage
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / methods*
  • Estrogens / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause / drug effects*
  • Menopause / physiology
  • Menopause / psychology
  • Quality of Life
  • Women's Health


  • Estrogens
  • Estradiol