Estrogen acutely increases peripheral blood flow in postmenopausal women

Am J Med. 1995 Aug;99(2):119-22. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(99)80130-2.


Purpose: To test the acute effect of estrogen on peripheral blood flow and vascular resistance in postmenopausal women.

Patients and methods: Eleven normotensive, post-menopausal female volunteers (mean age 53 +/- 6 years) were studied. Six women were in natural menopause and 5 had had a hysterectomy (mean age of the menopause 49 +/- 3 years). We used a double-blind, randomized protocol to assess the acute response to sublingual estradiol-17 beta (1 mg) on the forearm resistance vessels, compared with sublingual placebo. Blood flow was measured by strain-gauge plethysmography, and mean peripheral vascular resistance was then calculated. Mean blood pressure was also measured.

Results: The mean blood flow induced by estradiol-17 beta after 40 minutes was significantly greater than that induced by placebo (3.9 +/- 0.5 mL/100 mL per minute versus 2.4 +/- 0.4 mL/100 mL per minute, respectively, P < 0.05). The forearm resistance was significantly reduced at 40 minutes after estradiol-17 beta compared with placebo (25.7 +/- 4.4 resistance units (RU) to 44.4 +/- 6.4 RU, respectively, P < 0.05). Mean blood pressure 40 minutes after the administration of estradiol-17 beta was no different when compared with placebo (91 +/- 1.5 mm Hg versus 90 +/- 2.5 mm Hg, respectively, P = NS).

Conclusions: These results indicate that the acute administration of estradiol-17 beta affects blood flow in the peripheral vasculature in human subjects. The mechanism of this effect has not been determined, but it may explain some of the beneficial effects of estrogen on the vascular system and have future therapeutic potential in postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Sublingual
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Estradiol / administration & dosage
  • Estradiol / physiology*
  • Female
  • Forearm / blood supply*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Vascular Resistance / physiology


  • Estradiol