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Hot-Flash Relief In a Nasal Spray?

WebMD Health News

April 27, 2000 -- Women who suffer from postmenopausal hot flashes may soon be able to get relief in the form of a nasal spray, a new study shows. Used once a day, the experimental spray, which contains a liquid version of the female hormone estrogen, virtually eliminated the uncomfortable and embarrassing flashes in most women who used it.

Doctors frequently prescribe oral estrogen replacement therapy for women experiencing daily hot flashes after menopause. But doctors often must make adjustments in the therapy to find the most effective dosage. Estrogen also can be given through a patch worn on the skin, but studies have found that some women don't absorb the hormone as well by this method as with the pills, and the patches can fall off or irritate the skin.

Estrogen may also have side effects. Depending on the dose, it can be associated with breast tenderness and uterine bleeding. It also can increase the risk of gallbladder disease and blood clots.

In the study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers compared standard estrogen tablets with estrogen in nasal-spray form. The 659 postmenopausal women in the study ranged in age from 40 to 60. Some were given a nasal spray bottle containing estrogen along with dummy, or placebo, pills; others got estrogen pills and a placebo spray. The women used both the pills and the spray daily for 24 weeks. All also took progesterone pills for two weeks.

Before the study, women in both groups were having an average of six hot flashes per day. By the middle of the study period, 90% of all the women were having less than one hot flash per day, and by the end of the study, most were having none, according to researcher Lars Ake Mattsson, MD. Mattsson is with the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Sahlgrens University Hospital East in Goteborg, Sweden.

Women using the estrogen nasal spray had less uterine bleeding than those taking the estrogen pill, though few side effects occurred in either group. The most common adverse effects were nasal irritation in the group that got the estrogen nasal spray, and breast tenderness or pain in the group that got estrogen pills.

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