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POINT / COUNTERPOINT

Gel Offers New Option in Estrogen Replacement

March 24, 1992|KATHLEEN DOHENY

Women who choose to take supplementary estrogen to combat symptoms of menopause can already pick between oral or patch forms of the hormone, as well as vaginal creams. Soon, there might be another option: a rub-on gel.

In a USC study Drs. Charles March and Kathleen Kornafel tested 39 post-menopausal women. Eighteen used placebos; 21 used the estrogen gel, rubbing it on three weeks out of every four. After three months, 39% of the placebo group got hot-flash relief, and 95% of the group using estrogen gel reported relief. The gel is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Here, USC's March and another expert talk about the pros and cons of different forms of estrogen-replacement therapy.

Dr. Charles March, USC professor of obstetrics and gynecology; Glendale gynecologist

"Rub-on estrogen is one more option. You can individualize the dose (although) we did not do that in the study. You can measure the amount in the bloodstream, and thus doctors can evaluate (the effectiveness) of this form easily. You don't have the skin irritation of a patch. It doesn't affect the liver the way pills do. This is closer to an artificial ovary than anything else available."

Dr. Stephen Colodny, Torrance gynecologist; UCLA assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology

"Estrogen pills are a convenient form and usually well-tolerated. There are many doses (allowing individualization of the prescription). It has the longest experience. It is generally well-tolerated. A few women get stomach upset. I get far fewer complaints from women on the pill form (than on the patch)."

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