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Women's Health

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Hot-Flash Relief In a Nasal Spray?


The researchers say that intranasal estrogen therapy may someday be an effective and convenient option for postmenopausal women.

But an expert who discussed the study with WebMD expressed concerns about the long-term safety of the method, as inhaling a drug gets it into your bloodstream and to your brain much faster than a tablet you swallow or a skin patch you wear.

"I have a concern that you may be delivering too much estrogen to the brain at the expense of anywhere else," Wulf H. Utian, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. He says that to be safe, estrogen doses that are inhaled should be smaller than doses a woman would take in tablet form. But a major reason for taking estrogen, aside from relieving postmenopausal symptoms, is to prevent osteoporosis and, possibly, heart disease. It is unclear whether using smaller doses would still provide women with those protective benefits.

Utian, who is professor and chairman of the department of reproductive biology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland and executive director of the North American Menopause Society, also says using a spray every day may have long-term effects on the nasal passages.

"There are other ways [of taking estrogen-replacement therapy] that have had a lot more testing and that are ahead of the game on this particular delivery system," he says. If the nasal spray were available, Utian says, he would not recommend it at this point without much further testing.

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