Does 12-week treatment with vaginal 10-μg estradiol tablet or vaginal moisturizer improve postmenopausal vulvovaginal symptoms more than placebo?
In a randomized clinical trial of 302 postmenopausal women with moderate-to-severe vulvovaginal symptoms, vaginal 10-μg estradiol tablet plus placebo gel and vaginal moisturizer plus placebo tablet were not more efficacious than dual placebo at reducing symptom severity or improving sexual function.
Shared decision making for treatment of postmenopausal vulvovaginal symptoms can be based on cost and patient formulation preference; vaginal estradiol tablets appear not to add benefit beyond vaginal gel or moisturizer.
Nearly half of postmenopausal women report bothersome vulvovaginal symptoms, but few data support the efficacy of 2 commonly recommended treatments.
To compare the efficacy of a low-dose vaginal estradiol tablet and a vaginal moisturizer, each vs placebo, for treatment of moderate-to-severe postmenopausal vulvovaginal symptoms.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This 12-week multicenter randomized clinical trial enrolled postmenopausal women with moderate to severe symptoms of vulvovaginal itching, pain, dryness, irritation, or pain with penetration.
Vaginal 10-μg estradiol tablet (daily for 2 weeks, then twice weekly) plus placebo gel (3 times a week) (n = 102) vs placebo tablet plus vaginal moisturizer (n = 100) vs dual placebo (n = 100).
Main Outcomes and Measures
The main outcome was decrease in severity (0-3) of most bothersome symptom (MBS) between enrollment and 12 weeks. Additional measures included a composite vaginal symptom score, Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) score (2-36), modified Female Sexual Distress Score–Revised item 1, treatment satisfaction and meaningful benefit, Vaginal Maturation Index, and vaginal pH.
The 302 women had a mean (SD) age of 61 (4) years and were primarily white (267 [88%]), college educated (200 [66%]), and sexually active (245 [81%]). Most women (294 [97%]) provided data for the primary analysis. The most commonly reported MBS was pain with vaginal penetration (182 [60%]), followed by vulvovaginal dryness (63 [21%]). Mean baseline MBS severity was similar between treatment groups: estradiol, 2.4 (95% CI, 2.3 to 2.6); moisturizer, 2.5 (95% CI, 2.3 to 2.6); placebo, 2.5 (95% CI, 2.4 to 2.6). All treatment groups had similar mean reductions in MBS severity over 12 weeks: estradiol, −1.4 (95% CI, −1.6 to −1.2); moisturizer, −1.2 (95% CI, −1.4 to −1.0); and placebo, −1.3 (95% CI, −1.5 to −1.1). No significant differences were seen between estradiol (P = .25) or moisturizer (P = .31) compared with placebo. Mean total FSFI improvement was similar between estradiol (5.4; 95% CI, 4.0 to 6.9) and placebo (4.5; 95% CI, 2.8 to 6.1) (P = .64), and between moisturizer (3.1; 95% CI, 1.7 to 4.5) and placebo (P = .17).
Conclusions and Relevance
Our results suggest that neither prescribed vaginal estradiol tablet nor over-the-counter vaginal moisturizer provides additional benefit over placebo vaginal tablet and gel in reducing postmenopausal vulvovaginal symptoms.
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT02516202
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Mitchell CM, Reed SD, Diem S, et al. Efficacy of Vaginal Estradiol or Vaginal Moisturizer vs Placebo for Treating Postmenopausal Vulvovaginal SymptomsA Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(5):681–690. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.0116
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