Importance to the field: Transdermal hormone therapy is replacing oral estrogens and androgens as safe enhancements of life quality for postmenopausal women. Estradiol and testosterone are dosed into the microvascular circulation directly through skin so there is no first-pass hepatic transformation or deactivation of the dosed estradiol or testosterone.
Areas covered in this review: This review critically examines recent clinical trials describing experience with transdermal estradiol and testosterone in postmenopausal women. Transdermal estradiol is effective in the treatment of vasomotor symptoms (VMS) and can provide its benefits at higher levels of safety than have been heretofore possible with oral estrogens. Transdermal testosterone is effective in the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) documented in multiple, well-powered randomized clinical trials with demonstrated high levels of safety.
What the reader will gain: The reader will learn that transdermal estradiol and testosterone, in properly selected postmenopausal women, significantly and safely enhance life quality, are likely to become increasingly popular, and will probably replace oral hormone therapy.
Take home message: Transdermal delivery of native estradiol for VMS and testosterone for HSDD has significant advantages in safety and efficacy over traditional oral preparations which are now available for clinical use.