Objectives: To evaluate low doses of 17 beta-estradiol (E2) and norethisterone acetate (NETA) as continuous combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in their effects on vasomotor symptoms, bleeding episodes, endometrial histology and mastalgia.
Method: Sixty postmenopausal women were randomly allocated to three treatment groups and were given 1 mg E2 and 0.25 mg NETA (A), 1 mg E2 and 0.5 mg NETA (B) and 2 mg E2 and 1.0 mg NETA (C) in daily doses. The treatment period was 1 year.
Results: A similar statistically significant reduction of climacteric symptoms (P < 0.05) was found in all groups. Bleedings, mainly as spottings, occurred most commonly during the first treatment months. Fewer bleeding episodes and a higher percentage of amenorrhea was noted in group B compared to the other groups but did not reach statistical significance. All endometrial biopsies showed atrophy. Women in group A and B had less severe mastalgia (P < 0.05) compared to group C, given higher doses of steroids.
Conclusion: Postmenopausal women taking 1 mg of E2 plus 0.5 mg NETA as continuous combined HRT reported a marked reduction of climacteric complaints and good bleeding control. No endometrial proliferation was detected after 1 year of treatment. This type of therapy may be beneficial especially for elderly women, in whom bleeding may be annoying.