Objective: To define the effects of continuous sequential estrogen plus progestin therapy on menopausal symptoms in women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: We performed a randomized, double-blind, 24-month clinical trial involving 106 women with SLE who were in the menopausal transition or early or late postmenopause. Patients received continuous sequential estrogen plus progestin (n = 52) or placebo (n = 54). Menopausal symptoms were assessed using the Greene Climacteric Scale at 0, 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, and 24 months. A new factor analysis of the scale reduced 21 items to 5 factors. The primary outcome was improvement of menopausal symptoms throughout the followup period. Results were analyzed by the intent-to-treat principle.
Results: At baseline, demographic and disease characteristics were similar in both groups. Fifteen of 21 menopausal symptoms had a prevalence of ≥50%, with a similar distribution between groups. Vasomotor factor scores decreased over time in both groups (P = 0.002), but in the estrogen plus progestin group the reduction was more pronounced than in the placebo group (1.5-2.0 versus 0.35-0.8 points on a scale of 0-6; P = 0.03). Maximum effects were observed among the most symptomatic women. Psychological, subjective-somatic, and organic-somatic factors scores also improved along time (P < 0.001), but the treatment and placebo arms improved to a similar degree. Thromboses occurred in 3 patients receiving estrogen plus progestin and in 1 patient receiving placebo.
Conclusion: Menopausal symptoms are highly prevalent in peri- and postmenopausal lupus patients. Estrogen plus progestin improved vasomotor symptoms at a clinically significant level, but not other menopausal symptoms. Given the thrombotic risks of menopausal hormone therapy, this should be used only in women with significant vasomotor symptoms.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00392093.
Copyright © 2011 by the American College of Rheumatology.